The Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore was sold out Friday night for REO Speedwagon and Styx. The outdoor amphitheater in the heart of Baltimore’s inner harbor offered some remarkable views of the harbor and the Charm City. People in Baltimore came to rock and the bands did not disappoint.
The two bands have been co-headlining this tour and it was REO Speedwagon’s turn to go first. They opened up with their hit “Don’t Let Him Go” and “Music Man.” The crowd really got into “Take it On the Run” as the chorus became a sing-along with the audience. “Keep Pushing” kept the momentum going. Lead singer told an interesting story about The O’Jays and “Love Train” before launching into the band’s massive hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” They dug into their past catalogs for songs like “Like You Do” and “Son of a Poor Man.” However, they were ready to throw in a big hit like “Time for Me to Fly.”
A bass and drum intro spotlighting the talents of bassist Bruce Hall and drummer Bryan Hitt gave Cronin a chance to talk about “REO Speedwagon’s secret weapon” which was Hall singing lead vocals on “Back on the Road Again.” The energetic song, the sun setting lower and the lights taking more effect – stirred the crowd. They closed their set with “Roll with the Changes” which kept the crowd on their feet, and they kept the party going with their strong encore of “Keep On Loving You” and “Riding The Storm Out.” REO Speedwagon might have been the opening act but they played a headlining worthy 90-minute set.
The excitement continued between sets as Rock to the Rescue – the charity created by Styx that gives back to local communities – gave away an autographed guitar signed by the band. Some lucky fan paid $10 for a raffle ticket and got to take home quite a souvenir.
Styx had digital imaging screens at the rear of the stage and their drummer on a riser as they came out. – like a band on a mission – to rock this sold out crowd and that is exactly what they did. They opened up with the classic “Blue Collar Man.” They played “Grand Illusion” next with Tommy Shaw playing his guitar solo on top of the screens behind the drummer on a built in walkway. Styx would play about half of the Grand Illusion album during the night, including “Fooling Yourself,” and their hit “Lady,”which really highlighted Lawrence Gowan’s stage presence and vocals.
Next, they played some of their most popular songs, including a song Tommy Shaw claimed they hadn’t played in Maryland for over 30 years called “Light Up.” Styx continued with a pair of songs off Grand Illusion with “Man in the Wilderness: and “Miss America.” Then came “I’m OK” off of the Pieces and Eight album. Tommy Shaw was featured on “Crystal Ball” – a song he told the crowd he wrote before joining Styx (it appears on their “Crystal Ball” album). The band returned to their hits with “Too Much Time on My Hands.”
Lawrence Gowan lead a sing-a-long part of the show beginning with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” which he played into the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Always Get What You Want” and The Doors “Light My Fire.” He stepped away from the piano and bantered with the crowd while singing bits of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” Queen’s “Flat Bottom Girls,” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Finally, he started singing “Come Sail Away” and the rest of the band came out to join him for the sets finale. The Pier Six Pavilion was a great setting for this song as the harbor was filled with boats and some were enjoying the music on the water.
Styx retuned for a rocking version of “Rocking in Paradise.” Baltimore might not be paradise but it was close with the water, the great music, and one could also see the fireworks from Camden Yards as the baseball game was wrapping up like the concert. Styx finished their encore with their hit “Renegade.” Styx gave a performance filled with rock radio classics, some deep tracks, and still managed to add a few surprises. REO Speedwagon and Styx were the reasons fans walked out of the venue with smiles on their faces when the show was over!
Running Time: Three and half hours with one intermission between sets