The squeaky clean and nearly brand-new Huntington Center in downtown Toledo, Ohio hosted a stop on one of the best classic rock tours that will be criss-crossing America for the rest of the spring and summer. Dubbed “The Midwest Rock n’ Roll Express,” three of the best rock n’ roll bands of the 1970s and 80s have teamed to bring some of the best rock n’ roll of all times to the masses.
Opening the show in Toledo was REO Speedwagon, one of the originators of the “power ballad.” Kevin Cronin and company featured a clean, sophisticated stage look, with illuminated light towers and full length LED board acting as a backdrop. To say the show was a “greatest hits” presentation would be an understatement and REO certainly delivered the goods, performing 10 tunes in all, including “Don’t Let Him Go,” “Keep Pushin’,” “Roll With The Changes” and an encore of Ridin’ The Storm Out.”
Next up was 70s/80s radio icons Styx with the nearly ageless and seriously underrated guitarist Tommy Shaw looking dapper in a white shirt with dark vest. Like REO, the Styx stage was spacious, with stairs and platforms above and behind the drummer platform in front of the massive LED backdrop. Relaxed and interacting often with the nearly sold-out arena, Styx had the crowd singing along with hits like “Lady,” “Miss America” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” After a brief pause, the band returned to the stage for an encore, a rousing rendition of “Renegade.”
Closing the gig was “The Motorcity Madman” Ted Nugent, sporting a full beard yet exploding onto the stage with what seems like boundless energy. Unlike Ted’s last few tours, tonight’s stage setup was rudimentary, stripped down and bare-bones rock n’ roll. A drum set on an elevated platform, a few stacks of amps on either side and that’s about it. Ted and the “funk brothers” blew the doors of the Huntington center ripping into a blazing hot, in your face dose of “Wang-Dang, Sweet Poontang” to open his set. Intense, high-energy and just fun, Nugent really is a stellar axeman who can control and manipulate feedback like no other guitarist. From “Storm Troopin” to his closing number, “Fred Bear,” Nugent coaxed high-volumes of great licks out of his Byrdland.
The tour continues throughout the summer, check the individual band websites for off-dates.