REO Speedwagon made its first appearance in Northeast Mississippi

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI)- They were one of the most successful rock bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but they had never played a show in Northeast Mississippi, until Friday night.

Friday night’s concert was the band’s first appearance in Tupelo. Lead Singer Kevin Cronin said it’s always special playing in a city for the first time, especially the birthplace of the king of rock and roll.

“Just here in the dressing room, have this awesome picture of Elvis on the wall and it really, makes you realize how transformative he was Now, all singers take the mic stand and turn it on its side and sing like that, no one did that, so many things Elvis did change the whole world of music,” said Cronin.

Cronin has been with REO Speedwagon since the mid-1970s and sings lead on some of the band’s most famous chart toppers.

During an exclusive interview after the sound check, the 71-year-old said playing live never gets old.

“If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t do it. Whatever your job is there are parts of it you like and parts that are tough, but I cannot complain, I’m the lead singer in a rock band, I have the best job in the world, let’s face it,” said Cronin.

Cronin said the energy and enthusiasm from a live audience are fresh every night.

“We’ve always said the audience is the sixth member of the band, that’s really the payoff, we get to go out there and play these songs that we just made up and here we are in a room full of people with everyone singing it back at us, it’s a rewarding, and special, I do not ever take it for granted,” said Cronin.

Hosting any act for the first time, especially a band that has sold more than 40 million records, is also special for staff at the Cadence Bank Arena.

Marketing Director Shelby Ray said concerts, featuring big-name artists, are always a big draw.

“We love booking classic rock acts, especially ones like REO, they’ve never been to Tupelo so we’re super excited about that, it seems like patrons are excited, we love bringing classic rock because it brings a mix and a variety to Tupelo,” said Ray.

The REO Speedwagon show is the start of a busy spring and summer season for the Cadence Bank Arena That is great news for the arena, the local economy, and live music.

The contemporary Christian group “Mercy Me” plays the arena next week. Concerts featuring Thomas Rhett and Jelly Roll are set for the summer.

Categories: Local News