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Hammersmith Apollo, London 7 June 2007

I finally get to tick off seeing live another of the US giants of 70's/80's melodic rock/AOR, adding the mighty REO Speedwagon to the list of Journey, Styx, Foreigner, Kansas, Toto and now I only need to see Night Ranger, Survivor and Boston (although the latter is now sadly highly unlikely) to be a happy fan! The Apollo was about half full and the tour was far from a sell out by all accounts most probably not helped by the high ticket price of 35 (or over 40 when you add the rip off ticket agency fees).

Maybe next time they come over (and Kevin Cronin promised the band would be back next year) they could hook-up with say Journey or Styx and the venues would easily sell out. Mind you not touring the UK in over 20 years can't have helped either!

Support band Macara were a female fronted four piece who very enthusiastic although there brand of modern rock fell on deaf ears for most of the crowd. A strong vocalist and a decent guitarist coupled with a couple of decent tunes made for an enjoyable set although not enough to make me want to seek out more by the band.

REO Speedwagon really do rock in a live environment and are much better then the power ballads band many people believe them to be. Plenty of classics got an airing including 'Music Man', 'Keep Pushin', an awesome 'Time For Me To Fly' and 'Don't Let Him Go'.

Good to see the band include so many songs of their new album 'Find Your Way Home' including the title track and the two opening numbers, 'Smilin' In The End' and 'I Needed To Fall'. Another new song 'Dangerous Combination' fits well into the set, being another up tempo rocker. Of course their big ballad hits get performed, namely 'Keep On Loving You', 'Can't Fight This Feeling' and 'Take It On The Run'.

The band are on all fine form with Kevin Cronin who can still the notes and guitarist Dave Amato, along with bass player Bruce Hall (Hall also takes lead vocal on the main set closer 'Back On The Road Again'), were dashing all over the stage most of the time.

Neal Doughty's keyboards occasionally got lost in the mix and what a drummer they have in Joe Lynn Turner look-alike Bryan Hitt. Boy does he pound them drums (and indeed the gong which he hit so hard it fell out of its stand!). Just under a two hour set as well with 'Ridin' The Storm Out' amongst the three encore songs they performed.

Simply a damn fine rock 'n' roll band who seem to be back at their best and its so good to see them play here in the UK. Hopefully they will be back next year and they are well worth seeing live. Forget any preconception you have that they only do ballads, they do these but also rock like a good 'un.

Review by Jason Ritchie

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GRTR! Best of 2007

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