With the weather warming up and summer sneaking behind shortly, one of the perfect pastimes for entertainment is live music. Less than half an hour down Missouri 5 to Camdenton, the Ozarks Amphitheater offers a spacious venue with over two dozen shows slotted for the 2022 season.
“We kicked things off last week with Breaking Benjamin, and we’re thrilled to have these bands here tonight,” said Tom Abbott, part of the Ozarks Amp team.
Wednesday evening, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, STYX and REO Speedwagon all took the stage after scheduling conflicts with the tour almost canceled the highly anticipated performances.
“The show originally went on sale for Saturday the 14th… they were going to have to either cancel the shows completely or move it earlier in the week so we decided to still have it,” said Abbott. “The weather has worked out nice and we have a decent crowd… It should be a great night.”
Nearly 4,000 people ventured to the venue mid-week to witness rock history. The first band to take the stage was George Thorogood & The Destroyers. Thorogood, 72, was full of energy, stating it was great to be back in the state of Missouri and gave a nod to the amphitheater as “the midwest's number one rock and roll venue.”
The band’s most well-known hit “Bad to the Bone,'' celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The audience anticipated the opening riff throughout the set and were brought to their feet by the classic, which was the first original song Thorogood ever wrote. He changed guitars nearly a dozen times, teasing the riff throughout the show as he performed other hits including, “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” and “Who Do You Love?”
Next up was STYX, who played over an hour-long set jam-packed with their hits. The band’s frontman, Tommy Shaw, quickly won the hearts of the Missouri crowd quickly with a reference to his mother, who was born in Malden.
“I’ve got Missouri blood running through these veins!... We’re going to put it to work here on a song from the Grand Illusion album,” Shaw shouted just before breaking into “Come Sail Away.”
Lead vocalist and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan was drawing every eye in the venue with this iconic “spinning keyboard” platform. Gowan, who says he is part Irish, is a born entertainer and had the crowd on their feet from the second they took the stage.
The headlining band took the stage just after 9:30 p.m. and gave an outstanding performance with their legendary REO Speedwagon winged logo lit largely behind the stage. Lead singer and songwriter Kevin Cronin has been the bands driving force since joining the group in the mid-1970’s.
Cronin, who penned hits “Roll With The Changes,” “Keep The Fire Burnin’,” “Time For Me To Fly,” “Don’t Let Him Go,” “That Ain’t Love,” “Keep Pushin’” and “In My Dreams,” sang back-to-back-to-back hits all night, with vocals that have went unwavered.
“Man it is good to see you. Great to be back at the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks,” he said after the opening song. “Rock’n’Roll, live, is back in America baby!”
Cronin, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday, engaged with the crowd, offering his best advice from his experiences in life.
“I focus on what I know… What I do know is that the past is behind us. We can’t change it, nothing we can do but just learn from it and move forward,” he said. “We’ve got no control over the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen around the next corner so we may as well be mindful of it but don’t be afraid of it – just deal with it, right? The best thing I think we can do is wake up every morning and Live Every Moment.”
The weather was clear and sunny, with mild humidity but guests didn’t seem to mind. The amphitheater offers ample concessions options along with shaded areas and multiple restrooms. From the top row to the pit, every seat had a great view of the stage and by the end of the night, everyone was on their feet.
“We’re happy to offer live music in a nice outdoor venue,” added Abbott. “We have The Smashing Pumpkins next weekend and then we start rolling into some country stuff.”
Upcoming shows include Cody Jinks, Willie Nelson, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Brothers Osbourne, Whiskey Myers, Little Big Town and more. Ozarks Amphitheater is located at 2629 North Business Route 5 in Camdenton. For a full schedule and ticket information, visit ozarksamphitheater.com or call (573) 346-0000.