All the buzz in the music industry in Connecticut for the last 2 years has been about the brand new boutique amphitheater being built in Bridgeport. This is a Live Nation venue which is now named The Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater. When Reo Speedwagon and Styx were announced as the acts to premier the new venue, I knew I had to be in attendance for the event!!
Upon walking up to the entrance you can see the “guitar man” on the front of the building, which was repurposed from the iconic New Haven Coliseum. The coliseum was demolished by implosion in 2007. The new Amphitheater has approximately 5700 seats and has some of the best lighting and acoustics in the industry. It boasts food and drink from some favorite local vendors such as, Two Roads Brewing Company, Hummel hot dogs, Micalizzi’s Ices, Donut Crazy, Timothy’s Ice Cream, Tasty Yolk, Hoo Doo Brown BBQ and many more.
Once inside the venue, after a slightly late opening, the crowd was anxious to grab some of their favorite food and beverages, mingle with friends, and get ready for some awesome classic rock music.
After the supporting artist, Jay Psaros, Styx took the stage and they were on fire. Opening with “Fight of Our Lives”, and then rolling right into their iconic hits “Blue Collar Man” and “Grand Illusion”. The crowd was on their feet and their excitement showed. Everyone stayed standing for “Lady” and “Rockin’ the Paradise”. Next, off of the most current album which was released just over a month ago, they played the title track “Crash of the Crown”. They had the walls tumblin’ down with this current rock song that has flavors of late 70’s rock with keyboards and great vocal harmonies. Next up was “Miss America” and “Fooling yourself”. Then they rocked out with “Too Much Time on My Hands”, which had the crowd singing and clapping their hands. Next was a piano solo that was proclaimed to be “the first and best piano solo to be played in this venue, ever!” The band was given a key to the city and they said they were hoping it would open the door to one of the Super-yachts down in the harbor. The smoke machines started billowing and Lawrence Gowan went up on the platform above the drummer to belt out “Come Sail Away”. The audience turned the lights on their cell phones on and waved them back and forth to the music. Styx came back out and played “Mr. Roboto” and “Renegade for encore”.
James “JY” Young – Lead Vocals, guitars
Tommy Shaw – Lead Vocals, guitars
Chuck Panozzo – Bass, vocals
Todd Sucherman – Drums, percussion
Lawrence Gowan – Lead Vocals, keyboards
Ricky Phillips – Bass, guitar, vocals
- The Fight of Our Lives
- Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
- The Grand Illusion
- Rockin’ the Paradise
- Crash of the Crown
- Miss America
- Fooling Yourself
- Too Much Time on My Hands
- Come Sail Away
- Mr. Roboto
Reo Speedwagon started playing a few minutes late. They opened with 1972’s “Music Man” off of the T.W.O. album and went right into 1977’s “Keep Pushing”. “Don’t Let Him Go” was next with the crowd getting on their feet for “Take it on the Run”. Much of the crowd was excited to hear “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and when “Time for Me to Fly” was being played, they were standing once again. Shortly after that, I think the excitement of the night started taking it’s toll on the older crowd as I noticed a few people starting to head home. This didn’t deter Reo Speedwagon as they continued rock the venue with “Back on the Road Again” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out”. For the first encore they played “Keep on Lovin’ You”. Many people in the crowd were recording this on their cell phones. This song has over 41 million views on the bands YouTube channel. The last song of the night was “Roll With the Changes” in which Kevin Cronin joined in the on piano. After a loud applause from the crowd and thank you from the band, they left the stage and the people started to file out of the arena.
In conclusion, the inaugural day at The Hartford Healthcare Arena seemed to go off without a hitch. Reo Speedwagon headlined the night and sounded great, but I believe Styx had more energy on stage and was a hard act to follow. All in all, everyone seemed to enjoy the bands and the new venue, and for many it was their first post-covid concert.
Reo Speedwagon is:
Kevin Cronin – Lead Vocals, rhythm guitar
Bruce Hall – Bass Guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Neal Doughty – Keyboards
Dave Amato – Guitar, vocals
Bryan Hitt – Drums, percussion
Reo Speedwagon Setlist
- Music Man
- Keep Pushin’
- Don’t Let Him Go
- Take It on the Run
- Tough Guys
- Can’t Fight This Feeling
- Golden Country
- Like You Do
- Time for Me to Fly
- Back on the Road Again
- Ridin’ the Storm Out
- Keep On Loving You
- Roll With the Changes
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