Two types of fans left the REO Speedwagon/Styx concert Friday night at the Kentucky Exposition Center's Freedom Hall: those who'll remember a great time and those who had a great time but won't remember it at all.
REO Speedwagon, which played first on the split bill (the bands alternate positions nightly), delivered a high energy 13-song set of mostly hits that had the crowd at the two-thirds-full arena on its feet the entire time. Highlights included "Keep On Loving You," "Take It on the Run" and "Can't Fight this Feeling."
"When I walk out on stage, I look out there at the crowd and I feel just such a sense of joy, and that I want to spread that joy around for four hours on a Friday night," Kevin Cronin, REO Speedwagon's frontman said when we spoke last week. "Let the people of Louisville forget their troubles, and revisit their youth, and get out there and have a party, and have a good time and we’ll provide the entertainment."
No surprise, the 38-year rock knew his audience. The woman behind me who fell across two rows of seats during REO Speedwagon's set and was passed out on the shoulder of a friend (who was also passed out) during Styx's set? Safe bet she'd forgotten about whatever was ailing her Friday night. Those of us who were able to keep it together though had no less a fun time though, singing along to hits of our youth and maybe even making out.
I skipped the beginning of Styx's set to attend the REO Speedwagon meet and greet (because that's how I roll). When I returned to my seat after chatting with Cronin and the band's road manager about such rock n'roll staples as finding babysitters and where to get a good hot brown in Louisville (because that's how I roll), many fans were sitting for the first time that night, which might be a result of their age as much is Styx's music being mellower than REO Speedwagon's.
But as we all know, "Come Sail Away" cures all. Styx's signature song brought everyone to their feet, singing along Eric Cartman-style to the rock epic.
My one disappointment was that the encore Cronin had told me about with the bands joining to play a new song he cowrote with Styx impresario Tommy Shaw didn't happen. Of course, if you weren't expecting it, no disappointment. .38 Special opened, but I missed its set cause I was at Avalon drinking (because that's how I roll).
Full disclosure: My tickets to the show and meet and greet were complimentary.
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Photo: Courtesy Alessandro Solca