On This Day in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 6/11/2019, I ended a 40 year ban and saw REO Speedwagon for the first time since 1979! This happened because a wonderful new friend won free tickets and invited me.

The concert took place at The Lawn in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. I had never been to this venue before and I was quite impressed with the sound and visibility of the stage area.

Sister Hazel opened the show, but I must confess that they basically served as background music for a really interesting conversation my friend and I were having. To their credit, Sister Hazel sounded quite good.

When REO hit the stage, we moved up much closer to the stage and I must say the venerable classic rockers played all their biggest hits and managed to breathe some new life into some older deep cuts as well.

Lead singer Kevin Cronin did a lot of talking between songs, but his speeches served a purpose, such as his introduction of the band, particularly describing lead guitar player Dave Amato as the “new guy”, even though he joined the band in 1989. Cronin also talked about the songwriting process before performing Golden Country on solo acoustic guitar. That is one of my favorite REO songs, and the intimacy of just voice and guitar was a nice little change of pace.

Another speech involved the song 157 Riverside Ave., which was featured on their first live album. Cronin reminded us that the live version on that album was recorded in Indianapolis at the Convention Center.

Since REO hails from Illinois, Cronin played up the neighborly aspect of the band’s relationship with Indiana.

All in all there was a good balance between the big power ballads and grittier rockers like Back On The Road Again, Keep Pushin’ and Ridin’ The Storm Out. The crowd was singing along and swaying to the hits for the duration of the show. I’m glad I lifted the ban, because this time around was way more fun than the show I saw 40 years ago!

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 8/30/1979, REO Speedwagon and Blackfoot played a massively overcrowded Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, resulting in one of the most frustrating and least fun shows I have ever attended.

REO were on tour supporting their 9th album, aptly titled Nine Lives. They were cresting in popularity, soon to release their biggest selling album ever, 1980’s Hi Infidelity. This may have been the cause of the arena being too full for my friend and I to find two adjacent seats, or it might have been something else. Whatever the cause, we were forced to continually keep moving by the security guards who were at least enforcing the fire code of the venue.

REO sounded great and the seated portion of the crowd enjoyed it immensely, but I sure didn’t enjoy not even getting the chance to watch a whole song without a flashlight being pointed in my face and a muscle bound guard telling me to move along. Blackfoot opened the show in fine Southern Rock style. I had seen them open for Cheap Trick just 2 months prior to this show and they were great both times.

Ricky Medlocke and his crew definitely were a great warmup band for a headliner, and provided the only enjoyment I got from this ill fated concert.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

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