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REO Speedwagon
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REO Speedwagon
with Foreigner & Peter Frampton
A Concert Review

August 1, 1996

The New World
Music Theatre

Tinley Park, IL

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
Speed jumps to: Peter Frampton - Foreigner - REO Speedwagon

Yes, I'll admit it, growing up I listened to a lot of REO Speedwagon. There, I said it. I won't be one of those people who denies that their copy of "Hi Infidelity" has two, big, worn out grooves. Hell, I even went with The Dude on the Left to REO a few years back when they played a festival show near Chicago. When I saw that they were headlining a triple-bill of them, Foreigner, and Peter Frampton, all those scary memories from so long ago came rushing back and I had to get my butt to the show. So did a lot of others, based on the large crowd that made it to the show.

First up was the Peter Frampton man.

Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton
Frampton Comes Alive was the epitome of a live album, basically launching a career who you probably can't name another album/CD from him. For his show, unfortunately, the World Music Theatre was still pretty empty. It was 6:00 after all, on a work day, and by my calculation it would be pretty tough to make it from most of the Chicago area to the show if you left work on time. Nope, traffic would slow you down enough, let alone going home to change out of your work clothes. But, basically what people missed was a guy who looks like he just wants to have fun and he has the most fun playing on stage. But I think more than that, most people weren't there to be reminded of just how good a guitar player Peter Frampton is.

Quite honestly, myself, like I think most people, I only remembered Peter Frampton for that funny voice-box thing, and a couple of rock songs that will last for most of eternity. You know the songs, those hits like "Baby I Love Your Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do?" But as I sat and listened, I think Peter Frampton gets a bad rap on those songs sometimes. The critics blast him for replaying them and trying to use them as a drawing card, but what you never read about is how this performer is talented on guitar, knows how to work a crowd that may not always be there to see him, and just loves to have fun. But I'm not your normal critic, oh no, so take that last sentence and that is Peter Frampton - Live in 1996. I liked the show, and so did the small crowd that was starting to fill in, so it's TWO THUMBS UP for the Frampton man.

Second up is me, always the observation man.

No, I wasn't on stage pointing out things to the crowd, but I was waiting between sets when some things struck me. First off was this crowd. A show starting at 6:00 with three acts like Frampton, Foreigner, and REO Speedwagon brings out all types of folks. There was the business man straight from work with his tie undone, he was followed by a dude with no shirt, torn jean-shorts, and biker boots, there were grandma's there with their grandkids, and there were people who pulled their old concert t-shirts out of the mothballs and didn't care if they didn't fit anymore. Dammit, they were going to squeeze into them anyway, no matter how kinda disgusting that was on some people, but on some people, well, us men are pigs so you can guess what I'm getting at. Anyway, there were people who I don't think have been to a concert since the recording of Frampton Comes Alive because they showed up trying to bring in all kinds of containers of stuff. And then there were just stupid people.

What do I mean about stupid people. Well, let me tell you. I'm sitting there, just sucking down a soda-pop, when this lady starts ranting and raving about how security checked her purse but weren't checking everyone's purse. Now, personally, this lady didn't look like trouble at all, so even if the security dudes and dudettes were being selective in the purse-checking, I don't think this lady would have been high on their list to wonder about. Well, her and her husband will have none of this, so they blow right past security trying to get in. Security catches up with them, and there's now a couple of security people around, things calm down, and the people start to walk away. No, this won't do, I guess the guy changed his mind because he turns around and comes back to try and start something with the one security dude. Hello? Are you stupid or what? Five security dudes and one of you. Where the hell do you think this will take you? Well, it took some more negotiating but the stupid folks finally made their way to their seats, but these are probably the type of folks who are going to try to sue the security people for doing their job. Oh yea, a couple of words of helpful advice to those of you who want to start a fight at a show, not that I condone trying to beat the crap out of each other, but just in case you're planning on it: First, don't pick a fight with the security dudes. There are more of them than you and you will lose. Second, if you're picking a fight with someone else, for God's sake don't start it right in front of the Security office. I saw two dudes do this once, and let's just say no one really got to win because it only took the security dudes about five seconds to move in. Sorry about that little observation interlude, just kind of think of it as a break between sets because now it's about time for Foreigner.

Third up is was the Foreigner boys.

Mick Jones
Mick Jones
I always try to give my own little advice when I'm talking bad about a band, not that I'm talking really bad about Foreigner, but I will say this: Quit trying so hard and have fun.

Foreigner really hasn't had an album/CD out in years, at least that I remember. The last thing I really remember from them was "I Wanna Know What Love Is" and that was years ago. They may have had some songs since then, probably those two that I didn't remember hearing as I was listening. If they have had music out since then, their publicity people need to get off their butts and get to work. But if the case is just Foreigner cruising around, please guys, lighten up just
Lou Gramm
Lou Gramm
a little bit and don't come off like you're trying so hard.

Now, the crowd was receptive, it's hard not to when Foreigner was one of those bands that ruled when these people were buying albums and wearing the needles out on their turn-tables. And, it was pretty cool hearing some of these songs live and all. You know the ones, songs like "Urgent," "Cold as Ice," "Waiting for a Girl Like You," "Feels Like the First Time," and no Foreigner greatest hits show would be complete without "Jukebox Hero." The band still sounded good, and Mick Jones on guitar still wailed, so I can't condemn them, but Lou Gramm just didn't look like he was having fun. Oh well, maybe it's just me.

I'm kinda torn. I want to give them one thumb up, but the crowd sure seemed to appreciate them more, so, the crowd tips the scale - their the ones who count anyway. If you liked Foreigner back when, and you never got to see them live, they're not a bad show. Alright, I guess it's TWO THUMBS UP for Foreigner.

And then came REO Speedwagon.

Kevin Cronin
Kevin Cronin
REO Speedwagon, for those who didn't know, have a new CD out and it's called "Building the Bridge." It's a good CD, hell, I even reviewed it, and personally I was looking for a bigger mix of new material, but I guess sometimes you have to bite the bullet and give the crowd the old hits while you're working on making new ones. That's okay, and I won't crucify them for that, but I hope that if REO gets on a smaller line-up and gets longer than 75 minutes to play, that they throw in a few more new tunes.

Talk about bringing back the memories. With every hit Kevin Cronin and the boys played, I could relate to some experience and some time in my life. I don't know if it was cool or just kind of scary, but I did start to realize exactly why I liked REO Speedwagon back then, and why I, as well as the thousands of folks there this night, still like them today. Why? Because REO is you basic guitar-based rock & roll with some organ/synthesizer for effect. They can still belt out a ballad to snuggle up with your honey (which for me was just too depressing with no honey to snuggle up to), and will get you rockin' when you need it (this I could handle!). The younger crowd may not get it today, but some day their one-hit-wonders will have disappeared and bands that actually
Bruce Hall & Dave Amato
Bruce Hall & Dave Amato
play music will still be around. At least I hope so.

My first impression at the show was one of shock. What the hell happened to Kevin Cronin's hair. Sure, maybe he had it cut at that festival show I was at a few year's back, but from being so far back I sure couldn't see him then. My last remembrance of him was with the 80's afro-style hair. No, wait, my last remembrance of him was this publicity photo I was looking at a few weeks ago and he still had the afro-hair, or a really cool wig. He almost looks respectable now. My second impression was that even though they lost Gary Richrath on guitar a few years back, Dave Amato is quite a good replacement - damn good if I might say. And my third impression is of Richard Nixon: "I am not a crook." Alright, visual jokes don't go well in a written article, but the joke was there and I took it.

Bryan Hitt
Bryan Hitt
As for the show, REO Speedwagon sure knows how to put one on. After all of these years they still know how to have fun with the crowd, keeps things lively, and mix up the slower songs with the rockin' ones. They throw in some fog, these way cool lights that kinda look like candy canes, and just plain rock. Kevin Cronin still has one of the most recognizable voices for a song, and the band was incredibly tight. The crowd loved every minute of it. So did I.

What else can I say? If you ever liked any song by REO Speedwagon, I would highly recommend their show, and their new CD. The boys still have it, and didn't have to win over this crowd - this crowd was there to rock and REO obliged by putting on a show that let them. Yeppur, TWO BIG OL' THUMBS UP for REO Speedwagon.

As for the evening, I was glad to see all three acts, but what would really be cool is seeing full-blown shows by all three bands. The short sets kinda limited just how much fun you could have, but it was cool to remember the talent that is Peter Frampton, remember some of the forgotten hits of Foreigner, and rock the night away with REO Speedwagon. Now, if only my brother didn't use my "Frampton Comes Alive" record as a Frisbee, I didn't leave my "Foreigner Records" CD at my ex-girlfriends, and my "Hi Infidelity" record wasn't worn down to having almost no grooves left. Oh well.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right. L8R!