Styx and REO Speedwagon

The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, Sept. 24

As part of a three-city tour, these classic rockers summoned the spirit of the ’70s and ’80s. The resulting takeaway visual was Styx keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan wearing so-tight-they-looked-painted-on crotch-huggers that could be seen through a spinning keyboard stand.

REO Speedwagon opened the show with “Time for Me to Fly” and “Roll With the Changes.” Frontman Kevin Cronin noted the Vegas audience was much livelier than at the band’s previous performance in Salt Lake City. Getting sentimental without the sap, Cronin acknowledged their ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling” as being responsible for countless marriages. But instead of going soft on us, REO Speedwagon closed their set by smashing a big gong and then “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

Styx dived in headfirst with “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights).” Between keyboard fills, Gowan tore up and down the stage like a possessed man. Gowan (who replaced original frontman Dennis DeYoung) also sang lead on “Lady” and changed it up with vocalist and guitarist, Tommy Shaw, who sang lead on many others. Shaw told the story of how Styx found him in the ’70s through directory assistance and invited him to come to Chicago and bring his songs. One of those songs was “Crystal Ball,” which became a hit for the band. Gowan teased the crowd with a few snippets of Zeppelin and Clapton covers before the intro to “Come Sail Away.” Styx returned for an encore, sealing the deal with “Renegade.” It was an excellent night of big love songs and epic pop rock.

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