A cool, yet, rain free evening met concert goers at the 7,470 seat Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in beautiful downtown Tuscaloosa, AL for a trio of classic rock staples - Don Felder, Styx, and REO Speedwagon. I can't recommend the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater highly enough. The venue was clean, the staff was friendly, and parking was easy.
The show opened up with a set of Eagles songs by former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. For those of you who watched the excellent Eagles documentary, you know that Don Felder had a very rocky relationship with the band. He was brought in to give The Eagles a harder rock sound in place of the more country music oriented Bernie Leadon. To Don Felder's credit, he wrote the music to one of the most iconic songs in classic rock history- Hotel California.
Don Felder's setlist was filled with great classic rock and plenty of sing-a-long Eagles classics and the one Don Felder written non-Eagles tune that every one probably knows from the animated feature Heavy Metal.
Don Felder was joined on stage at various times by Tommy Shaw from Styx and Dave Amato from REO Speedwagon including the finale Hotel California.
Don Felder sounded amazing. His voice has held up wonderfully and he is still a maestro on the electric guitar and his band is a who's-who of top tier session musicians. When It Was Cool will be covering The Eagles concert next week but I can already tell you that Don Felder should still be in The Eagles. He was flawless and amazingly talented and The Eagles are worse off for not having him. If you ever have an opportunity to see Don Felder in concert don't hesitate. He alone is worth the price of admission.
I saw the original Styx line-up (minus the, at the time, recently deceased John Panozzo) during the Return to Paradise era in the mid-1990s and had avoided Styx ever since. I was a big Dennis DeYoung fan and after he departed the band I had no interest in seeing the new Lawrence Gowan version. Boy was I wrong. Styx absolutely owned this night and Lawrence Gowan is a star. I still love Dennis DeYoung, make no mistake about it, but there is nothing inferior about this Styx line-up.
Tommy Shaw, somehow miraculously, never ages. I have no explanation for it. His voice is as strong now as it was in the 1970s and he still rocks a mean guitar. James "J.Y." Young still sounds and plays as well as ever and really brought the goods on Miss America. They played a couple of songs from their latest album The Mission and they were very good and did not drag the set down a single bit as new music from classic rock bands occasionally does.
An unexpected treat was original bass player Chuck Panozzo coming out to play with the band. I knew Chuck Panozzo occasionally played with the group but I did not expect him here in Tuscaloosa so that was a wonderful surprise.
Tommy Shaw is one of my favorite musicians and singers of all time and I don't care if he's with Styx or Damn Yankees or solo, Tommy Shaw is the man but Lawrence Gowan- I just can't say enough about the guy as he absolutely owned it tonight. Gowan fronted an unforgettable version of The Grand Illusion and then brought the house down with Come Sail Away.
The encore featured the Gowan led Rockin' The Paradise and Tommy Shaw lead Renegade which was the perfect ending to a perfect set. Styx hit a home run and I owe Lawrence Gowan an apology for avoiding him all these years. Styx is as good now as they were in 1977.
The night wrapped up with a set of classic rock radio favorites from REO Speedwagon. When It Was Cool saw REO Speedwagon a couple of years ago so we were still relatively fresh on what the current day REO Speedwagon brings to the table.
Kevin Cronin sang all of the REO Speedwagon hits you would expect including radio favorites I Can't Fight This Feeling and my personal favorite Roll With the Changes. The playing by REO Speedwagon seemed great, though, and this is my main criticism of the set, the music overpowered Cronin's voice to the point he was hard to hear at times.
It was a great night of classic rock music. Be sure to support these great classic rock acts whenever they appear near you. You might be surprised what many of these iconic bands still have left in the tank.
We will discuss this concert in further detail on the next When It Was Cool Podcast so be sure to check us out on your favorite podcast app, or on iTunes, or in the Google Play store. You can always stream or download directly from here at When It Was Cool.
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