REO Speedwagon (originally styled as R.E.O. Speedwagon) is an American rock band. Formed in 1967, the band cultivated a following during the 1970s and achieved significant commercial success throughout the 1980s. Hi Infidelity (1980) contained four US Top 40 hits and is the group’s best-selling album, with over ten million copies sold.
The band was first formed by Neal Doughty who is the lead singer and plays guitar, piano and synthesizer and is the only original member starting in 1967. Other members include Kevin Cronin lead vocals and rhythm guitar 1976-present ,Bruce Hall bass guitar 1977 –present, Dave Amato lead guitar and vocals 1989 –present and Bryan Hill drums 1989 –present.
Most people are familiar with their mainstream hits such as “Take It On the RUN” (I heard it from a friend who / heard it from a friend who / heard it from another you were messin’ around), “Keep on Loving You” and “Can’t Fight this Feeling,” but hearing them on the radio doesn’t do it justice as hearing them in person.
I was very much surprised at seeing them as I didn’t realize they were like this. I was expecting a soft rock band and was pleasantly entertained. Although they are mostly played on soft rock stations their music in person is hardly that. They are loud, but extremely energetic and more hard rock with heavy emphasis on long guitar licks and jumping around on stage. Their drummer Dave Amato is one of the most hard driving, energetic drummers I’ve seen in a long time who doesn’t stop and moves with lightning speed. When they burst into their hit songs which you can hear below they are rocked up and louder and really gets your heart pounding and hands clapping even inviting the audience (which I found very well behaved and appreciative) to sing along. They had an impressive back drop that appeared to be a paved road going thru some sort of tunnel with small lights giving the impression of perspective. My wife thought it reminded her of something out of Star Wars.
Lead singer Neal Doughty is a charming and interesting fellow who is very lanky and wirery with a full head of white hair that stops short of the neck and has a very distinctive voice that can best be described as a husky, high pitched, nasally, mid western accent sound. He’s constantly smiling and looks like he’s saying, “Gee I’m glad you’re here tonite” as he tells humorous stories about himself and the band throughout the years. The band is from Champagne, Illinoise.
At one point Neal sounded like a rebel rousing crowd instigator as he inspired people to never give up. He refers to his band as “the self appointed Kings of classic rock” and said, “It wasn’t easy to become the self appointed kings of classic rock. When we started people said we wouldn’t make it and to turn back, but we persisted and here we are today and you can do it too.” He also praised America and said , “This is America and we don’t turn our backs on anybody.” While he says all this the band is playing softer in the background with a heavy drumbeat really motivating everyone.
The three front men Neal, Kevin and Bruce constantly brought out new guitars to play from double neck to single neck. They changed guitars faster than Cher changes clothes at her shows. 😀 ( If anyone has seen Cher performance in person or on TV you know what I mean.)
REO Speedwagon is definitely a fun and entertaining group to see. If you are a concert goer like my wife and I are be sure to check them out if they come to a venue near you.