Back before Christmas of 2021, it was announced that Loverboy, REO Speedwagon and Styx were coming to Charlotte. Loverboy was one of my wife’s favorites bands back in the day and she wanted to go see the show, so tickets were bought and months were spent waiting until the day finally came on August 6, 2022 at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, NC. It was a rainy afternoon and evening and this was an outdoor show. I wasn’t worried about the show itself because we had seats undercover, but the walk there was a little wet…but we didn’t care as it kept it cool and was a little fun to get wet.
The show kicked off on time and first up was Loverboy promptly at 7pm. The first thing I noticed was that they were old…I had forgotten that time had passed. I looked around and I noticed the crowd…well, I won’t say they were old too, but Depends did have a booth giving away free samples and Jonathan from Colonial Penn Life Insurance was there selling their $9.95 Plan (let’s see who gets that one). After remembering that people age, I got my mind back in to the show.
Since they were the opening act, they only played 8 songs, but they were a great 8 songs. I will admit my wife was a little underwhelmed at first and so was I as the vocals didn’t sound that great and the playing was a little sloppy at times, but it got better, much better. Mike Reno didn’t move around a ton and neither did Paul Dean. However, Matt Frenette, the drummer, looked exactly the same in that red ball cap and he was still killing it on the drums. He hadn’t aged a bit. When they played “Kid Is Hot Tonite” and “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”, it took me right back to high school and it sounded incredible. I got chills. And when the final two songs came on “Turn Me Loose” and “Working for the Weekend”, the crowd was totally in to it and on their feet. It was a helluva a way to end the show with every one truly loving every minute of it…pun intended. If the whole show would’ve had the energy of those last two songs…they would have blown everyone off the stage that came after.
Then after a very short break as the stage crew changed out sets really quickly, REO Speedwagon was up next. And let me tell you these guys sounded great and looked amazing. Note, these guys are all in their very late 60’s and early 70’s. Kevin Cronin looked and still has that killer voice. They still have one original member in Neil Doughty (the keyboardist) and he is the only member to be on every REO album and perform at every single REO live show that has ever been played…pretty awesome!
The band played 12 songs which meant the set was tight and full of hits. They opened with “Don’t Let Him Go” and went right in to “Take it on the Run” and the crowd was really feeling it as was the band. These guys were having so much fun. Kevin is all over the stage as was Bruce Hall on bass and Dave Amatto on guitar. There were so many highlights including “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Time for Me To Fly” which are two of my favorite REO songs, but the big thrill were those final three songs with “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, “Keep On Loving You” and “Roll With The Changes”. Everyone was on their feet and having a great time.
And here is how great Kevin looked and what a youthful energy and pure joy that was on his face all night. He seems like such a great guy and appreciates so much the fan reaction. He seemed genuine.
The headliner that night was Styx and they played an astounding 16 songs which was more than I thought we were going to get. And I will go ahead and say this right out of the gate, they were the best sounding act of the three and my favorites. My wife liked REO Speedwagon better which I can see why (She did know more REO songs than Styx). The biggest surprise for me with Styx was Lawrence Gowan. I hadn’t seen them play and haven’t been a huge fan of their more recent albums, but Gowan is FREAKING FANTASTIC!! What a showman. The flamboyancy, the theatrical style and all around craziness was infectious. He is in a world all his own on that stage. He also has a keyboard that spins and he seems to be spinning right around with it. I think he was an amazing choice to replace Dennis DeYoung as his voice might be as good or better than Dennis.
Okay, enough about Gowan though I don’t know if you can ever have enough of Gowan. The band was hitting on all cylinders all night. Tommy Shaw hasn’t aged a bit in both looks and vocals as he still can hit those high notes and just sounds awesome. What is great about a Styx live show is that so many people can sing. You have Tommy on some, Gowan on some and even JY gets a song. Share the love. Now James Young (JY) might be the only original guy left in the band, but they had a surprise for everyone as original member, bass player Chuck Panozzo, made an appearance and played bass on “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”. Chuck is 73 and his health doesn’t allow him to keep up with the rigors of a full tour, but so cool to see him. He came out again later (but I had to miss that part).
I was so excited to finally here Styx live and get to hear “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)”, “The Grand Illusion” and “Lady” live and I admit, I got more chills when hearing them. The band played a couple really old songs and some really new songs off their most recent album “Crash of the Crown” and although I didn’t really know them, they still sounded fantastic. Fans would start to sit down on these songs, but would be right back on their feet when a classic was played.
Sadly, I was only able to stay for about 10 of their 16 songs as my wife and I had to get up early and drive all day to go on vacation. I stayed until I heard one of my favorite Styx songs “Too Much Time on My Hands” and I am glad I did. After that we left and we did hear “Khedive” and an Elton John Cover of “Rocket Man” as we walked out. But we missed “Lost at Sea”, “Come Sail Away” and the encores “Mr. Roboto (which I am thrilled is back in the setlist) and “Renegade”.
Even leaving early, it was still a fantastic, fun-filled, nostalgic evening as all three of these bands were influential on my music tastes back in Middle and High School. Three more bands I can now say I have seen. If you want an enjoyable evening of great memories, check them out if they go to town…it was well worth it!! Now, where did I put my red leather pants…I wonder if they still fit!!