Two iconic rock bands from Illinois will hit the road together for the first time this summer in a co-headlining tour.
REO Speedwagon and Chicago have had similar career trajectories, launched in the same city (Chicago) and share many musical influences, but they have never before shared a show bill.
"With so many personal connections between various members of REO and Chicago, it is amazing that we have never actually toured together. I love it that the Chicago guys feel the way we do about truly playing together when you tour together," said REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin in a press release.
"Can you imagine the Chicago horn section on 'Roll With the Changes'? That would blow my mind! This tour promises to deliver some unique music from two bands who have made a ton of hit records, share that Midwest work ethic, and still refuse to sit back on their past accomplishments. We both keep raising the bar, challenging ourselves, and rocking hard... and the audience is the ultimate winner. We are psyched... I can't wait for this tour."
"It's ironic, that these two legendary bands, who both have roots in Illinois, were label-mates (Columbia/Epic) in the 1970s, and experienced waves of immense success in the 80s and 90s, and have somehow continued to consistently make compelling music, both in-studio and on tour.... have never before performed together." said Chicago's Robert Lamm.
The 24-date tour presented by LiveNation kicks off on July 31 in Concord, California.
For Chicago's Robert Lamm and Lee Loughnane, along with REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin, speaking in a conference call, the tour is a huge benefit to both bands, and in some ways, touring hasn’t changed much over the years.
According to Loughnane, the emphasis on selling merchandise hasn’t changed much since the 1970s, which might be surprising to some.
”We're just trying to sell shirts, “ Loughnane said. “We’ll be selling the new album as well as the videos and VHS material that we have available. We're just going to try to keep our merchandise selling.”
Lamm added, “It's not really a significant boost to the income. For me, it seems to be more of a memento for the fans that want something.”
“When I go and see a Broadway show or a concert, I usually want to grab something…It's really just sort of a memento,” Lamm continued.
“I have Lady Gaga sunglasses, just so you know.“
According to Cronin, of REO Speedwagon, one of the things that is really exciting is that REO Speedwagon’s music and Chicago's music come from unique perspectives, and they each will be bringing their own fan base to the tour.
“The thing that unites us is a certain time period, obviously, and songs that people know: those hit songs, those songs that everybody can sing along to,” Cronin said.
“One of the most exciting things is I think there's going to be a lot of people who come to see REO Speedwagon who are maybe seeing Chicago for the first time, and so Chicago is going to play for a lot of people that are basically REO fans,” Cronin said.
“The same thing, there's a lot of people there that are going to come to see Chicago regardless of who they're playing (with). Now they’re going to get to see REO Speedwagon for the first time. A lot of people are going to get turned on to music. To me, I love that.”
Fans have a little something extra to look forward to at the end: the bands will perform together in the encore of each show, joining forces on some of each other’s greatest hits.
"Chicago and REO will perform together during the concert's encore and present a finale that will thrill their audiences,” Lamm said. “As a musician who has always respected REO's skills, I look forward to our first rehearsals early this summer. This will be fun!"