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Styx/REO Speedwagon/Eddie Money

Sandstone Amphitheatre -- Saturday, July 10, 2000

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Abandon faith all ye who enter. Forget the proposed Oz amusement park; if you want theme entertainment, take a walk through purgatory with REO Speedwagon and Styx. Saturday night, Sandstone became a refugee camp for mullet-wearers and folks whose only exposure to opera has been KCFX's rotten television commercial. However, what they shelled out to see offered considerably less locomotion than a roller-coaster. The barely pre-AARP members of the two groups, plus rock gimp Eddie Money, put on a creaky celebration of tired sounds and did so with strained Richard Simmons panache rather than fevered rawk energy. Nonetheless, these geriatric groups seemed to more than placate the beer-soaked crowd, which came for "Keep on Loving You" and "Lady" and went home without being disappointed.

Money emerged first to grind out his minicatalog of minor hits as though stubbing out a cigarette with a soiled boot. It's a dirty job singing Eddie Money songs, but somebody has to do it.

Not so for Styx, which came last. Singer Dennis DeYoung doesn't have to do it -- he's on tour on his own somewhere this summer. Original guitar players and occasional singers Tommy Shaw and James Young remain from what your average radio listener would recognize as Styx. Lawrence Gowan and Glen Burtnick, who reportedly have recorded music as solo artists for record buyers who shop cutout bins, added their uniquely underwhelming style to such songs as "Come Sail Away," which lasted longer than Titanic -- and went down harder.

A look through some Web discussion boards regarding Styx reveals a community of fans undone by DeYoung's absence, bickering among themselves about the band's fate. Some seem to feel that Gowan, who sang "Lady," is a vital performer with a satisfactory voice. Others feel that Gowan and his fellow Styx new-hires make a mockery of what was once a hall-of-fame-quality band. I would like to weigh in and assert that I don't care if they wheel out the cast of Saved by the Bell and some guitars as long as I get "Mr. Roboto." YEAH!

At least REO Speedwagon kept original singer Kevin Cronin on the payroll, and Cronin couldn't have seemed happier to still be cranking out the shits. With the trademark long vowel phrasings that make Alanis Morissete sound as clipped and proper as Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, he gave up one crappy prom make-out song after another, including "Keep on Loving You" and "Can't Fight This Feeling." The band, which is mostly intact, also attempted to jam. Lord, it hurt.

The night as a whole consisted of competent rock played by people old enough to be much more than competent. But give them this much -- they primed the pump nicely for next month's Yes/Kansas show, which could cause seizures without proper preparation.

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