City Slang: The Midwest Rock ’n’ Roll Express hits DTE

Jun 29, 2012 at 7:04 am

I neither know nor care what “cool” means, but I sure as hell know that it isn’t a triple bill featuring REO Speedwagon, Styx, and the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent. In fact, if a rock bill were to be put together specifically for the purpose of making the musically fashionable shake with laughter and overflow with scorn, it would likely be this one.

Like I give a shit.

The name of the tour, the Midwestern Rock ’n’ Roll Express, aims squarely for the blue collar music fan and, y’know, that’s ok; all of these bands are from the Midwest, though it’s been some time since any of the musicians have worked 14 hours in a factory. But whatever, fair enough.

The venue is packed to busting, and the sun is blasting down. Inside the seating area, the sweat is pouring and it is, quite frankly, uncomfortable. Still, all of that is soon forgotten because REO Speedwagon is shockingly good. Yeah, you can laugh if you want, but it’s true. The ballads (“Keep on Loving You”, “Can’t Fight This Feeling”) are sweet enough but the rockers like “Roll With the Changes” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out” kick ass. I’m saying it in public. REO Speedwagon rock.

Styx are on form too. There’s no “Mr. Roboto” (BOOOOO), but “Come Sail Away” and “Too Much Time on My Hands” sounded great under the sun.

Nugent came on to a medley of Detroit classics, songs from Mitch Ryder, Seger and Grand Funk. I have to admit, on the day that the Obamacare mandate was upheld and deemed legal, I was curious about what the Nuge would have to say about it. Surely he wouldn’t be able to stay quiet on that? But he did. Obviously, he aimed a few metaphorical darts at the “corrupt assholes in the White House”, but that was it. Disappointing.

“Just What the Doctor Ordered” and “Wango Tango”, to be fair, are a lot of fun. High-octane hard rock. Derek St. Holmes is still a killer guitarist and co-vocalist, and who can deny “Cat Scratch Fever”?

Nugent’s politics remain abhorrent. But put him on a stage with a guitar in his hand, ignore the rants between songs, and he is still one of the great showmen.

And now I sit and await the arrival of the “cool police”.

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