Time to break out the headbands, leather pants and Zippo lighters. Back in the day—that would be late ’70s/early ’80s—few American bands were bigger than REO Speedwagon. The guys dominated classic rock radio and continually sold out arenas as new wave started rearing its more fashionable head. Some would even say the Champagne, Ill., quintet invented the power ballad. Smash singles “Keep on Lovin’ You” and “Take it on the Run” helped propel 1980’s No. 1 album Hi Infidelity past the nine-million copy mark. Leader Kevin Cronin’s exuberant stage presence, guitarist Gary Richrath’s mind-searing solos and keyboardist Neal Doughty’s sonorous keyboard work made them a force to be reckoned with. After a few more moderately successful releases (including hand-waving concert anthem “Can’t Fight This Feeling”), REO shifted gears. Axe man Dave Amato (ex-Ted Nugent) and drummer Brian Hitt stepped in to cement the longest-running lineup to date. Latest studio effort Find Your Own Way Home is among the strongest works in the group’s 40+ year cannon. The supple title track and “I Needed to Fall,” which went top 30 at Adult Contemporary radio in ’07, are highlights. REO and touring partner Styx recently recorded new tune “Can’t Stop Rockin‘” together. It was bundled with past favorites from both acts for use in the Rock Band videogame. Current Broadway musical sensation Rock of Ages also features their music. Last week, Styx got some unexpected high profile TV exposure when two American Idol contestants chose “Renegade” for a duet.
REO Speedwagon, Styx, 38 Special at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena, 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, (909) 244-5600; www.cbbankarena.com; Thurs., May 21, 7PM, $13.50, $39.50, $75 (plus fees)