A '57 T-Bird. A '63 Vette. A '68 Mustang. All classics.
The list of classics should also include the longtime rocksters REO Speedwagon. On a scorching afternoon at ParkWest, the aging band proved they are "Back on the Road Again" and just as hot as ever.Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath, Neal Doughty and Bruce Hall may be showing the signs of age - especially for serious rock 'n' rollers - but they can still churn out tunes better than 90 percent of the rock bands in the business.
Just ask anybody among the 7,000 or so who spent a sweltering Saturday afternoon dancing to REO tunes. Forget the suntan contest that preceded the show. These hard-core fans were on hand to hear REO Speedwagon.
These weren't casual fans. These were fans that knew every word and sang them with gusto. Thousands clapped in unison or chanted deafening choruses like "Keep on Rolling" and "Time for Me to Fly."
It didn't seem to matter to anyone that REO didn't have a whole lot of new songs to offer this trip around. They played a couple of new ballads from their new "Hits" LP, a greatest hits album that's not nearly as comprehensive as "Decade of Rock 'n' Roll."
But for the most part, it was a chance for fans to hear all the old hit singles.
REO kicked the show off with a meaty version of "Don't Let Him Go," followed immediately by "I Do'wanna Know" and "Take It On the Run," two favorites that got the crowd worked into a rock 'n' roll frenzy. It was a surprising show of enthusiasm considering REO is not exactly at the peak of its career right now.
Even REO seemed taken aback by the crowd's enthusiasm, grinning broadly between songs. And they seemed to get caught up in the excitement of the moment. Richrath seemed to be playing guitar with more gusto, Cronin was jumping around the stage like a loaded jackrabbit.
REO Speedwagon is living proof it is still socially acceptable to rock 'n' roll after age 35. In fact, with songs like "Tough Guys" and "Riding the Storm Out," REO proved it's still fun to rock as hard as we did a decade ago.
But age is taking a toll on the Speedwagon. There is a much more noticeable propensity for ballads, like the newer tunes "In My Dreams" and "Here With Me," and the REO standards "Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Keep on Loving You."
REO topped the show off with the classics "Roll With the Changes," "Riding the Storm Out" and "Time for Me to Fly," the last two comprising their first encore. A second encore of "Shakin' It Loose" was somewhat of a letdown.
For the first time in since REO rolled off the assembly line in 1971, this version of the Speedwagon had unoriginal parts. Drummer Alan Gratzer was missing from the lineup, and no explanation was given. He was replaced by a former Santana drummer.