REO Speedwagon at the Fred Kavli Theatre

REO Speedwagon played their first L.A. show in nearly 2 years at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks, CA Wednesday night. As always the show was full of hits. The opening band was Sir, Please which included REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin’s twin sons and original Heart guitarist Howard Leese’s son. Leese was in attendance.  After seeing REO Speedwagon at larger venues including the Forum, Microsoft Theater, and Greek Theater, it was special to see the group play an intimate show. The last time REO Speedwagon played out here, it was shortly after basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a tragic helicopter crash. REO Speedwagon performed “Live Every Moment” for the first time since 1985 which they dedicated to them at the Saban Theatre. “Live Every Moment” was included in their tour since then, however it was not performed at this show.

As the Covid-19 pandemic began the band was still on tour up until lockdowns. The first show they played since the pandemic began took place July 1st, 2021. REO Speedwagon played nearly 60 dates after touring resumed and this was their first show of 2022. This turned into an even more intimate show once the band took the stage which seemed to just be partially  an acoustic set at first. The stage was set for full production minus a whole drum set. The band took the stage without guitarist Dave Amato and added in Joe Vannelli on piano who is the producer and brother of Gino Vanelli and producer of REO Speedwagon’s last two albums.

Although it’s been 12 years since REO Speedwagon has released an album, the group’s catalog remains just as popular to this day. REO Speedwagon continues to tour annually and in recent years has toured with Styx, Don Felder, and Chicago. REO Speedwagon consists of founding member Neal Doughty (Keys), lead vocalist of over 40 years Kevin Cronin, Bruce Hall the group’s bassist of over 40 years,  Dave Amato (Guitar) and Bryan Hitt (Drums) celebrated their 30th anniversary with the group in 2019.

Even though the format was different than their usual show, the setlist was very similar to their 2021 tour set. The group took the stage and kicked off the show with four major hits back to back: “Music Man,” “Keep Pushin’,” “Don’t Let Him Go,” and “Take It on the Run.” Hitt’s long time drum tech John Aldrige the artistic genius that does the hand engraving on Ludwig snare drums came out to play the shaker. After the first two songs, Cronin explained to the audience that Amato was missing because he had tested positive for Covid-19 the day before the show at dress rehearsal. Rather than cancelling the show at the last minute and disappointing the fans, Cronin quickly came up with a way to make the show happen in a way that the band could still perform their usual setlist and the fans would be happy. Him and his wife Lisa came up with the idea to make it an acoustic show and right down the hallway was Vinelli so they decided to bring him in to play piano.

Like any REO Speedwagon show I’ve been to, Cronin had a lot of great stories to share mostly how the songs were written and also some humor. Cronin said “We’re going unplugged baby for the first time in REO history,” and the songs performed “sound the way they were first written.” Cronin also mentioned that it was noticeable Hitt’s drums were missing from the stage and that instead he was playing a mix of percussion instruments like a cajon and djembe. Cronin did all the guitar duties acoustically and Hall played electric bass.

This was a hometown show for Cronin as he lives in Thousand Oaks and Hitt lives in Santa Clarita, Amato is also local as well, while Hall lives in Florida and Doughty in Minnesota now. The group was founded in Champaign, IL so the members are in much better climates these days for the most part.

Since it was a hometown show for Cronin he was able to make it a family affair. When Sir, Please opens they join in at the end, but for this show the band stepped offstage and Cronin brought out his daughter Holly for “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” which Cronin performed at his daughter’s school Westlake High in 2014 with her and the choral class. Holly wasn’t the only Cronin family member to sing, Kevin’s wife Lisa for “In My Dreams,” also performed as a duet. The band returned for “Time for Me to Fly.”

For “Back On the Road Again,” Hall took over vocals as he sang on the original recording. Before a two song encore the group played “Riding the Storm Out,” which was very fitting for the way the world has been the past 2 years.

REO Speedwagon returned to the stage to play “Keep On Loving You,” and “Roll With the Changes” which Cronin usually performs on piano, but this time stayed out front. Rather than walking off stage Cronin joked saying to pretend like they had just walked on and off stage for the encore. They were joined by Sir, Please, Lisa and Holly Cronin for the finale. The set was 12 songs total instead of their usual 16 songs.

REO Speedwagon will play the Grove of Anaheim tonight.



  1. Music Man

  2. Keep Pushin'

  3. Don't Let Him Go

  4. Take It on the Run

  5. Tough Guys

  6. Golden Country

  7. Can’t Fight This Feeling

  8. Time for Me to Fly

  9. Back on the Road Again

  10. Ridin' the Storm Out


  1. Keep On Loving You

  2. Roll With the Changes