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"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
Written By: Gary Crouthamel
*Click images below to view larger versions.
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
"United We Rock Tour 2017" - Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder
Borgata Event Center, Atlantic City, NJ
Saturday, August 12, 2017
 
        Back to the Borgata, my favorite place to shoot in Atlantic City, N.J., and what better way to celebrate my birthday weekend than a trip up there for the "United We Rock Tour 2017" with Styx, REO Speedwagon and Don Felder. I have covered these bands before but not all together on one bill. This is the show of the summer and it was a hit from start to finish.
        Right at 7 o'clock with a huge backdrop behind the stage resembling the "Hotel California" album cover and the name Don Felder on it, he and his band hit the stage and opened with "Already Gone", and "One of These Nights". They next played the only non-Eagles song of the night, "Heavy Metal" (Takin' a Ride), that Don wrote himself for the 1981 cult film of the same name. He took care of most all the vocals of the night but with the help of his band on this hit, "Seven Bridges Road", that got the crowd into a sing-a-long. I hope his guitar tech is well taken care of because Felder changed guitars on every song of the night; you don't see that much. Dedicating the next song to all the women in the crowd, they played "Witchy Woman." Now Felder asks to bring a friend out to help him on the next song, so out walks Tommy Shaw of Styx with a guitar in hand, and they go into "Take it Easy." Half way through the song, Tommy replaced the guitar for a banjo. After "Heartache Tonight " and "Life in the Fast Lane", Felder once again invites a few friends on stage for the next song and is joined by Dave Amato on guitar from REO Speedwagon, and drummers Bryan Hitt from REO and Todd Sucheman from Styx as each guy adds extra percussion. Now, while holding his white double neck Gibson guitar he asks the crowd, "Does this guitar look familiar?" Most of the crowd applauded as he says this was the guitar that he recorded "Hotel California" with; and with that song he closed his set with a monster hit and a very nice response from the crowd.
        At 8:05, with a huge backdrop with the REO Speedwagon logo on it covering the back of the entire stage, the band came out and opened with "Don't Let Him Go", "Keep Pushin'", and "Can't Fight This Feeling". Lead singer and guitarist Kevin Cronin says, "It's good to be back in Atlantic City, and I bet most of you only came out to see if we were still alive.” After "Tough Guys", Cronin says that the band hopes to record and get the next song on a record soon which is "Whipping Post", with guitarist Dave Amato and bass player Bruce Hall playing the song with their backs up against each other throughout the song. Next was "That Ain't Love", with Amato on lead and Cronin and Hall hanging in the back of the stage. After "Take it on the Run", they mixed up their set list and threw in "Like You Do", from their second album R.E.O./T.W.O. from 1972; I don't think I've ever seen them play this one. With the band on fire by this time and the stage lit up like a Christmas tree, most all of the crowd was singing to most of the songs. Crowd hit "Time for Me to Fly" segued into "Back on the Road Again" with Hall taking over on vocal duties for this one. With a quick band intro by Cronin, now adding Bryan Hitt on drums and Neal Doughty on piano, he says, they have been “blessed through the years and there is a little lucky star shining down on us that lets us do what we love to do every night.” They closed out the first set with "Ridin' the Storm Out".
        After a quick break the band returns and Cronin takes his place at the piano on the right side of Hitt's drum kit to the opening chords of "Keep On Loving You", then comes to the stage and sings, and then goes back up to the piano to finish the song before closing their set out with their always closer "Roll With the Changes". Now the band is all at the front of the stage throwing guitar picks, drum sticks, waving and giving their goodbyes.
        At 9:40 the lights come up and now the backdrop has the Styx logo on it. The band takes the stage and opens with  "Overture" and "Gone Gone Gone" from their just-released album (June 16, 2017) "The Mission". To promote their new album, they even switched up their set list by starting with new songs. Next was "Blue Collar Man" (Long Nights), "The Grand Illusion" and "Lady". Singer/guitarist James "J.Y." Young now says to the crowd, “Back in the old days when lighters used to light up the venues, now it’s cell phones, so” he says, "Let’s light up the night" as they go into "Light Up". After the song singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw says that JY, is the Godfather of Styx. Tommy now says, "anybody heard our new album? We opened with a couple from the new album and we are going to play two more.” With that said, the backdrop now changes over to the new album’s cover art work as the band launches into "Radio Silence", that I really enjoyed. When the song is over, JY now says, “that's Tommy "bleeping" Shaw.” Now, it’s time for JY on vocal duty for "Miss America". Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan actually sings quite a few songs filling the void from long departed Dennis DeYoung as all three rotate throughout the night. Shaw then came out with an acoustic to play my favorite, "Fooling Yourself "(The Angry Young Man). Usually, original bass player Chuck Panozzo will come out and join in on this song, but I guess he was not feeling up to it; he has battled some health issues for a while. Let’s hope that Chuck gets back out there; it’s always good to see him, only if for a few songs. With the backdrop switching back and forth throughout the set, this time it’s "Too Much Time on My Hands". JY now tells the audience that, “we put our new album out on vinyl (to which the crowd went crazy), and the first press sold out; so we put out a second press and it sold out. We want to thank everyone of you here tonight for your support that allows us to continue to do what we love to do every night.” JY now introduces Gowan on keyboard for the fourth and final song of the night off the new album titled "Khedive", a piano instrumental that was very impressive and even received a standing ovation from the crowd. Next Gowan opens with a little medley on piano with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" segueing into the Beatle's "Golden Slumbers" before going right into "Come Sail Away" to close out their first set.
        After a quick break the band returned and opened with "Rockin' The Paradise". With a quick band intro now adding bass player Ricky Phillips and drummer Todd Sucheman, the confetti cannons on both sides of the stage exploded and sent red, white & blue confetti spewing all over the crowd as they finished their set with "Renegade". Like REO, the band gathered at the front of the stage throwing guitar picks and drum sticks and taking their final bows as they walked off the stage.
 
– Gary Crouthamel, Concert Photojournalist
 
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