Review and Photography by Craig Hunter Ross
The show had been advertised on local classic rock radio for months and die hard fans were at the venue hours before hand, awaiting the entrance gates to swing open. One would be hard pressed to find a tour lineup that can boast more combined top 40 hits and platinum recordings than that of Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon and STYX; not to mention each act brings more than 40 years in the business to the stag,e respectively.
Though personnel and line ups have changed over the years, the love of live performance and bringing the music live to the people for each of these artists has not. Maybe it’s those American values they bring with them to the stage every night…love of country, honor for the military, the demonstration of giving it your best through hard work, integrity and loyalty. Even in tough economic times, the fans keep coming back…and on this night, they’re going to get their money’s worth.
It’s a beautiful spring Friday evening and the cool breeze blowing through the amphitheater known as Jiffy Lube Live! in Bristow, Virginia, is soon overtaken by the raging whirlwind known as Ted Nugent. Fans are excited to see Derek St. Holmes, the original singer and guitarist for The Ted Nugent Band along side ‘Uncle Ted” as his “BBQ” begins. Within minutes “Wango Tango” is rattling the rafters and everyone is on their feet.
With three acts on the same bill, set lists would have to be slightly abbreviated, but that didn’t mean there would be a shortage of classics, as well as a few surprises. Nugent provided “Just What the Doctor Ordered” (pun intended and song played), “Free for All”, “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Stranglehold” and other hits as well as a cover of Hendrix’ “Red House”, all the while weaving in humor and politically charged commentary, much to the delight of the suburban D.C. audience.
Following a complete stage set change, REO Speedwagon took to the stage as the guitar roar of Dave Amato got the crowd on their feet and rocking with their hit ‘Don’t Let Him Go”, quickly followed by “Take it on the Run”. Front man Kevin Cronin led the express trip through decades of rockers and ballads, each of which had fans dancing and singing along to what must be a great deal of the soundtrack of their lives. The hits are too numerous to name…”Can’t Fight This Feeling”, ‘Time For Me to Fly”, “Roll With The Changes” and more. All played with the joy and enthusiasm as the day they were recorded. At times, it’s difficult to determine who is having more fun, the listener or the player…and that’s what makes for a special show.
The evening’s last stop on the “Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express” brings STYX into the station, wasting no time getting the rock going with the familiar organ refrain of “Blue Collar Man” soaring into the clear Bristow sky, as the ever youthful Tommy Shaw leaves no square foot of the stage unexplored while the cerebral James “JY” Young rips his axe to shreds, looking on approvingly.
Once again, every song is a hit, every word is sung by the audience and every note of each solo is air guitar’d along to. “The Grand Illusion”, “Too Much Time on My Hands”, “Lady”, “Fooling Yourself”, “Come Sail Away”, “Renegade” and so many others would keep the party going until it was time for the train to leave the station and the ‘Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express” would be on it’s way to another town in another place. If there’s a stop at a “station” near you, make sure you have a ticket and climb aboard. You’ll enjoy the ride!