It's hard to believe but REO Speedwagon has been going strong strong, in one form or another, and with founding member and keyboardist Neal Doughty the only constant, for better than 45 years. Though their studio output of the last 25 years hasn't been that prolific or successful as their chart topping early years, the band keeps on touring, mostly on the fair, festival and casino circuit. Live at Moondance Jam is a recording of their set at this annual Minnesota classic rock festival from July 2010.
Much like most classic rock bands still active and touring, REO's set list is basically a greatest hits show. You'll not find a single song from 2007's Find Your Own Way Home, as I doubt anybody in the audience would recognize a song from it anyway. Both the DVD and CD include the complete set list from the show, in the exact order of the performance. Here we consider the DVD for review.
My first impression at the start was that this live performance was rather soft fort entrance and first song Don't Let Him Go. The sound seemed muted and Kevin Cronin subdued. However, the performance improves, the band seems enthusiastic, and sound comes alive. Yet, this made me wonder how much correction or embellishment was made in the mixing room. Regarding the songs, excepting one, the hits, well, sound like the hits. They're not carbon copies of the original, but neither is their much improvisation. As to the hits, the first four songs are from the first side of Hi Infidelity, celebrating its 30th anniversary. The only song that doesn't track right with me is my favorite REO song, Back on the Road Again. The studio version from Nine Lives, with the incredible guitar play in the latter half, will always be my favorite. Sonically, then, this recording sound quite good.
The principal front men vocalist Cronin with bass player Bruce Hall, and guitarist Dave Amato keep the audience engage. Cronin, as usual, is chatty with the crowd and quite spry at 59 (now 62) running around the stage. Amato can be quite the 'ham,' mugging for the camera and making faces. Doughty is the shy one, merely moving from his Hammond organ and grand piano.
Visually, the video direction is rather typical with lots of shots of the full stage, individual players, and the crowd. There are some odd visual effects at times, that seem more an afterthought than purposeful. REO's stage and sound is modern taking advantage digital sound and large video screen in the background. Oddly, unlike other shows I've been to, this rear screen is not used to zoom in on individual players for the fans in back venue.
Finally, there is one bonus feature, a brief backstage interview with Kevin Cronin. Basically, he explains how the strength and focus of the band has always been the songs, why they keep touring (they can't do otherwise), and how Can't Fight This Feeling evolved.
Live at Moondance Jam is REO Speedwagon doing their greatest hits live.
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