Words & Photos by Rod Snyder
Tonight’s objective was to check out Styx, REO Speedwagon & Don Felder on the United We Rock Tour.
I loaded up the Ford SUV (Sorry Ransom E. Olds) and headed to Event Ballroom, located at the Borgata Hotel & Casino, the golden jewel of Atlantic City. After securing my ticket and pass, I made my way up the escalator and into the ballroom to scout things out. The time was 6:45pm, and the room was buzzing with energy as people were trying to locate their seats. There was a mixed age demographic, mostly leaning towards the younger/middle aged end of the spectrum. Though if one was to look over along the side of the venue, you would see the walker and wheelchair parking. Being a casino show, you will get a mixture of old and young. Despite the age, everyone would enjoy the show this particular night.
A few minutes after 7:00pm, Don Felder, former guitarist for the Eagles, took to the stage. Felder was with the Eagles from 1974-2001, and stated that as he started his cavalcade of hit songs. Felder and his band opened up with “Already Gone” and went into “One of These Nights”. He assumed the responsibility of vocals for the night, but shared them during the classic, “Seven Bridges Road”.
After this, Felder introduced the next song, by dedicating it to all the women who never had a song dedicated to them. The opening chords of “Witchy Woman” started and the crowd ate it up and asked for seconds. A few songs later Tommy Shaw of Styx made his way to the stage and joined the band for a rousing rendition of “Take It Easy”, with Shaw taking the banjo picking duties. The dueling of Felder and Shaw at the end of the song was a treat for all in attendance.
With the end of the set upon us, Felder brought out his Gibson Doubleneck Guitar and asked the crowd if it looked familiar. Of course it did. It’s the guitar he plays for the most popular Eagles recording, “Hotel California”. He again brought out some help with the song, and this time Dave Amato, Todd Sucherman & Bryan Hitt from REO/Styx. They brought the house down and the phones up, in video mode of course. It was a great end to the opening act, but there were 2 more bands yet to come!
REO Speedwagon took to the stage about 20 minutes after the Felder set. I can honestly say that I only really knew the radio hits of REO, but after seeing them live, I may have to dig deeper into their catalog. The set opened up with “Don’t Let Him Go”. After the song ended, Kevin Cronin joked with the crowd, saying the only reason people came to the show, was to see if the band was still alive. Indeed they were this night, and on fire too! The band had a lot of energy and was moving all around the stage, the entire set.
A couple of songs later, the first power ballad of the night surfaced, and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” rang out through the speakers while the crowd added a nice back up to the song. Then Cronin and the band sang a new song, one that has not yet been recorded, called “Whipping Boy”. It’s an upbeat, rocking number, and it got a great response from the audience. “Take It On The Run” had one of the best chorus sing-alongs from the band during the set; REO was clearly feeding off the energy of the crowd.
The first encore included an intro story of how Cronin was asleep and woke up suddenly at 4:00am one morning with three chords in his head. He went immediately to his home studio and recorded them before he would forget them. The song that came from this was “Keep On Loving You”. He took to the piano for this one, and stayed on til the last song of the night, “Roll With The Changes”. The crowd had since been on their feet and was singing along with every word. It’s nice to see the band still has some gas left in the tank. The musicians all were on their game. I couldn’t help but notice how perfect Bryan Hitt’s drumming was. He kept perfect timing for the band. And I can’t say enough about Dave Amato. He is an incredible presence on stage, and his guitar chops aren’t too bad either!
Now, finally it was time for the main course. A heaping dose of Styx. The headliner for the United We Rock Tour are out supporting their current release, The Mission, which came out in June. The band only played 3 tracks off their new release (“Gone, Gone, Gone”, “Radio Silence”, & “Khedive”) and mainly focused on their back catalog, particularly The Grand Illusion album. “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” was the second song of their set, which got everyone’s juices flowing early on.
The vocal duties during the show switched between band members Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, and Lawrence Gowan. JY took to the mic and introduced the next number, “Miss America”, an appropriate song given the location of the show. His vocals on the studio album are great, and he still sounded great in person, too. Soon after that, the band exited the stage, leaving only Gowan and his piano. He played a new musical piece entitled “Khedive”, a classical sounding number and segued into a medley of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Golden Slumbers” by The Beatles. Gowan only played the main sing-along parts, but cut them short right at the height of them, just to mess with the crowd. The medleys went right into “Come Sail Away”, and everyone was on their feet again. The lack of singing from the previous medley of songs, was made up for the in the chorus in this epic set closer.
Styx left the stage for a few minutes and came back on for two final songs, “Rocking’ The Paradise”, and the classic tune, Shaw sung “Renegade”. The people were on their feet with phones in their hands, a modern sign of approval of a song these days. Styx left the stage after that and left the venue intact, so us patrons could leave and throw a few bucks into the slots or try their luck at the tables.
One thing I took away from the show tonight was how well the entire crowd seemed to behave. In my immediate area and walking to my seats several times between sets, I didn’t see anyone having a bad time or having issues with other people around them. With what’s going on in this world right now, it’s nice to be able to escape for a few hours and forget about outside life and focus on having a good time with other people.
One of these nights
Heavy metal (takin a ride)
Seven bridges road
The long Run
Take it easy
Life in the fast lane
Don’t let him go
Can’t fight this feeling
That ain’t love
Take it on the run
Like you do
Time for me to fly
Back on the road again
Ridin’ the storm out
Keep on loving you
Roll with the changes
Gone, gone, gone
Blue collar man (long nights)
The grand illusion
Fooling yourself (angry young man)
Too much time on my hands
Medley: Bohemian Rhapsody/Golden slumbers
Come sail away
Rockin’ the paradise
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