Written by Dave Clements

The fact that it was a Sunday night, plenty hot & humid in The Woodlands outdoor amphitheater and classic rock fans still came out in significant numbers says everything about Houston area live music fans! The attraction? A pavilion about to come alive with Loverboy, Styx and REO Speedwagon.
And still it was a real bummer to many, including this reviewer, that Loverboy had to cancel because COVID-19 raised its ugly head in the band family. I know for me that took a lot of the fun out of attending the concert. That is no slam to Styx , REO or the group that was brought in to take the opening slot, Love and Chaos (AJ Vallejo & Kendall Beard).
AJ, before becoming half the duo was in the rock band Vallejo and Kendall was a finalist on Season 8 of American Idol. AJ & Kendall started the night off in full daylight yet they came out for their short set at full throttle. And although they were not Loveboy they were very entertaining and obviously very talented artists. They are out of Austin and this duel has excellent chemistry complementing one another nicely. They were obviously very happy to get the call to open for these iconic rock bands and they took full advantage of it for the relatively few minutes they had to show their stuff. I think they were worthy of the call and their performance caused me, and I hope many others in attendance, to plan to go see them perform a full set somewhere down the road.
Maybe one day soon they will come back to The Woodlands’ Dosey Doe Big Barn and let a full house (or is that a full barn?) enjoy a full evening of Love & Chaos…time will tell!
The first Co-headliner up was Styx. I assume they alternate with REO on who goes first? Sadly, the sun was still up when they hit the stage however that didn’t seem to curb their enthusiasm to get the show going. Actually, it still being light out likely bothered me more than them or their fans. Rock concert photos that do not include the excellent Woodlands Pavilion light shows that happen after the sun sets are just not as interesting.
The guys kicked of their fifteen-song set with Fight Of Our Lives from their most recent studio LP titled ‘Crash Of The Crown’ then went into Blue Collar Man and Grand Illusion.
From there it was Lady, one of mine and evidently many others favorite Styx song. Before leaving the stage the guys had played nine more songs including Fooling Yourself, Too Much Time, Come Sail Away (another fan favorite), Renegade and the song that some say was the demise of the original Styx line up, Mr. Roboto. Go figure……??
Everyone on stage was doing their part and giving their best to this very responsive and upbeat audience – yet I must point out that keyboardist Lawrence Gowan is the heart and soul of the band (in this reviewer’s opinion) and it sure showed Sunday night. He is the one that never stops moving, giving 110% or more every moment and the rest of the guys can’t help but feed on his enthusiasm and energy.
Before moving on to REO I need to mention that a ‘special guest’ was introduced and played periodically during Styx set. His name was Chuck Panozzo, former bass player for the band and a founding member. I think I overheard that Chuck’s health wasn’t good enough for him to tour full time with the guys yet he was still part of the Styx family and in very good standing with the others.

REO Speedwagon came up on time, something I always appreciate seeing, and as difficult a job as I thought they had to put on a great set equal to or greater than Styx performance they absolutely pulled it off. The engine of REO is no doubt their lead singer Kevin Cronin, who I think is magnificent! He is always on point, always looking like he is really enjoying himself and his ability to execute the songs is so admirable, especially considering how many years he and his bandmates have been doing this. My bottom line was they did a terrific job just like Styx and both went way beyond my expectations.
The REO show was kicked off with Don’t Let Him Go, Take It On The Run and Keep Pushin … and that is exactly what they did all the way through their set that ended with Keep On Lovin’ You, Roll With The Changes and (as a tribute to the absent Loverboy) Workin’ For The Weekend. In total they played thirteen songs and showed why they are still in demand across our great nation!

Before ending this piece, I don’t know about you but for years I wondered what in the world was an REO Speedwagon? Thanks to WIKI it turns out the guys got the name from the REO Speed Wagon, a 1915 truck that was designed by Ransom Eli Olds! What did we do before WIKI?
Lastly, a point to ponder based on my observations Sunday night of the part of the audience in front of me. Do these people go to the show to video tape it onto their phone, with the phone blocking their view and the view of others and watch what the record later? Why not just go to You Tube and save the money? Or do they attend to get ‘content’ for their social media so they can show people not in attendance how cool they are going to a live show? Or are they there to really soak up the music? Honestly, I didn’t see many just absorbing the sights and sounds of the music. To me, this is tragic!
Whatever the reason they were there supporting these artists and live music I for one will always think that is a good thing.
Until next time,