Chicago, REO Speedwagon at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 8-4-14 (photos, review)

After their own respective sets on Monday night, Illinois music legends Chicago and REO Speedwagon joined together for a memorable third set as a supergroup at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. With all 14 players on stage, the blended band alternated hit songs from REO’s and Chicago’s prime.


REO opened the show with classic rock accessorized by large silver cross necklaces and skull rings. Introducing their hit “Keep Pushin,” frontman Kevin Cronin reminisced about visiting Red Rocks on a family vacation at age three. Colorado’s famous venue in the foothills obviously made an impression on the toddler, now a senior citizen.

It’s sobering when tunes of one’s youth get categorized as oldies, yet REO’s arena rock withstands the test of time. The boomer rockers enjoyed a trip down memory lane, playing the hits people have enjoyed for decades.

REO performed “Take It On the Run,” “Keep On Lovin’ You,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Time For Me To Fly” — a ballad that Cronin said he wrote in Boulder and inspired by the Rocky Mountains.

Following REO’s hit-filled set, Chicago took the stage with a new album to promote, but still trotted out vintage hits. The razzle-dazzle majesty of their horns and blended harmonies brought the dated songs to life again. Middle-aged couples cuddled to the slow dance songs of their proms: “Colour My World,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry” and “You’re the Inspiration.”

Chicago stepped it up with “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “I’m a Man,” “Saturday In the Park” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.” Chicago’s tag team lead vocals give the band an edge. Their dueling drummers worked the crowd into a primal drum frenzy.

The third set’s synergy featured both bands playing “Ridin’ the Storm Out” and reached a crescendo with “Roll With the Changes.” But Chicago had the final number: “25 or 6 to 4.”

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Colleen Smith is a longtime contributor to The Denver Post and the author of the acclaimed novel “Glass Halo” and “Laid-Back Skier” by Friday Jones Publishing.

Alan Cox is the president/creative director of Cox Creative, a Highlands Ranch-based creative shop. He works too much, sleeps too little and spends every free moment coaching baseball, shooting images and hanging out with his rowdy sons and rowdier wife. Check out his photos here.