by Kim Shockley-Ash
– Columnist —
May 3, 2013 – Starlight Theater, Kansas City, MO
I’m often amazed at the number of people that pay good money for an evening of rock and roll, yet don’t arrive till mid-way through the first act. Too bad for those who were late, as the skies were clear and a temperature in the low 70s when Ted Nugent and his band took the stage. Ted and the boys came out rocking hard and loud. By the time the stage lights came up half-way through the set, the venue was nearly full and everyone was on their feet singing “Cat Scratch Fever.” It came as no surprise to anyone that Ted un-apologetically made known his political “opinions,” but at the same time, paid tribute to all those who serve in the United States armed forces. The best song of the night by far, was “Stranglehold,” with Derek St. Holmes sounding exceptionally good on lead vocals. I haven’t quite figured out why Ted Nugent is never the headliner of the show. I may not agree with his political rants, but as long as he continues to play guitar like a beast, I’ll keep buying tickets.
REO took the stage next and for whatever reason, the photographers were made to stand at one end of the stage, so photo opportunities were few and far between. Kevin Cronin is an awesome front man for the band. I had to chuckle because during the lead in to “Golden Country,” he sounded more like a Southern Baptist Preacher than a rock star. I’ve seen REO Speedwagon many times and I’ve yet to be disappointed. Kevin Cronin’s voice is as sharp and clean as it was 20 years ago, and the way they perform, it always seems exciting and new.
The STYX performance was great, but predictable. Tommy Shaw and James JY Young still have the chops and Lawrence Gowan is a genius on the keyboards and vocals, but they sang the same songs, in the same order, with the same stage set up and the same facial expressions as they did last year and the year before that. About mid-way through the set, everyone in the band except keyboardist Lawrence Gowan left the stage to hydrate or whatever it is bands do backstage. I found his “solo” quite entertaining…a medley of rock music through the years, including a little Elton John and Rolling Stones. After asking for a show of hands of who had never seen STYX live before, LG ended his bit with a little Pink Floyd. Nice. Nice. LG has a great voice, but I do wish they would stop doing “Lady.” Only Dennis DeYoung can do justice to that one. Sorry Lawrence.
Their encore included two songs, “Rocking the Paradise,” and “Blue Collar Man.” “Crystal Ball,” my favorite STYX song was left off the set list…again. Their live performances are starting to sound a bit like a cookie-cutter, state fair concert. It’s time to shake up the set list guys.