It was 50 years ago this month that the Champaign, Illinois group REO Speedwagon went from local bar band to national recording artists with the release of their self-titled debut album.

Five decades later, lead singer Kevin Cronin says, 'You can take the band out of the bar, but you can't take the bar out of the band. We're just playing bigger bars these days'.

REO's latest 'bar' gig was Wednesday night (October 13) at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, where they ripped through a 90-minute/16-song set that drew from a number of stops along the way in the band's catalog, which has helped land them in the Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but amazingly still not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

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As expected, the Sioux Falls setlist showcased some of the band's biggest hits from the 1980s, including four songs from the #1 album Hi Infidelity, the best-selling rock album of 1981: 'Take It On The Run', 'Keep On Loving You', Don't Let Him Go', and 'Tough Guys'.

But the three band members from those glory days (Cronin, keyboardist Neal Doughty, and bassist Bruce Hall) along with 1989 additions (guitarist Dave Amato and drummer Bryan Hitt) also spent some time revisiting the group's early days.

They opened the show with 'Music Man' from their second album, 1972's REO/TWO, and later worked in 'Like You Do' and 'Golden Country' from that album, along with 'Son of a Poor Man' from 1973's Ridin' The Storm Out.

It was during that portion of the evening that Cronin joked it was the perfect time for those in the audience who were only familiar with the band's 1980s work to 'take a leak'.

But the deepest cut of the evening wasn't a song from the 70s, it was 'Live Every Moment' from the 1984 album Wheels Are Turnin'. Cronin told the crowd that the band hadn't played the song live in 35 years and seemed genuinely touched with the reaction of the audience at the song's end.

Sprinkled throughout the rest of the set were some of the band's biggest hits from their 1976-1987 heyday: 'Keep Pushin', 'Ridin the Storm Out', 'Time For Me To Fly', 'Roll With The Changes', and 'That Ain't Love'.

It was also great to see Hall take over the singing duties on 'Back on the Road Again', a song he wrote for 1979's Nine Lives.

REO SPEEDWAGON SETLIST - WASHINGTON PAVILION

  • Music Man
  • Keep Pushin'
  • Don't Let Him Go
  • Take It on the Run
  • Tough Guys
  • That Ain't Love
  • Live Every Moment
  • Can't Fight This Feeling
  • Son of a Poor Man
  • Golden Country
  • Like You Do
  • Time for Me to Fly
  • Back on the Road Again
  • Ridin' the Storm Out

Encore:

  • Keep On Loving You
  • Roll With the Changes

The show was a reminder of what has made REO so great for so long.

Let's hope that one of their gigs in the next few years is at a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland.

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One of the unexpected highlights of the evening was the opening act, Edwin McCain.

Fans of late 90s pop radio remember the Charleston, South Carolina singer/songwriter for his Top 40 singles 'I Will' and 'I Could Not Ask For More'.

McCain knocked those out of the park Wednesday night all while keeping the audience in stitches with stories of fatherhood and being the 'worst high school teacher in South Carolina' during his hiatus from performing during COVID.

If he ever decides to walk away from music, I think he's got a promising future as a stand-up comedian!

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