REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, and Pat Benatar

A concert scheduled for August 26th at Great America theme park in Santa Clara offers this stirring triple bill: REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar.

Dear me, where to start? The continued existence of REO Speedwagon must inherently be considered a blight upon God's green earth. Here we have a tepid, untalented band that managed to achieve a frightening level of popularity in the early '80s. It did this aided in large measure by saturation- level exposure on MTV, despite being a conspicuously untelegenic bunch, due probably to the fact that in those early days of the network there just weren't that many videos around and just about anyone could get played. (Styx also benefited from this effect.) That they have been reduced to playing theme parks lessens the pain only slightly; Great America actually has a fairly large auditorium and the band is probably picking up a good-sized paycheck.

Pat Benatar's former great success was due in exactly equal measures to 1) her irritatingly catchy, chick-singing-hard-rock, slightly-new-wave-or- something songs, such as "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" and "Hell Is for Children," and 2) her penchant for spandex. When that formula began to wear thin, she turned kind of dancey and then, very belatedly, tried to get serious by changing her wardrobe and singing the blues. The prediction here is that she'll be back in spandex for the puppet show circuit.

The saddest part of this troika is Fleetwood Mac, which once, many years and countless personnel changes ago, may have done something slightly worthwhile. We don't know who will constitute the Mac this time out -- Mick Fleetwood will probably be there, Lindsay Buckingham probably will not, and who knows about the ever-expanding Stevie Nicks -- but it can't help but sadden us that a band who owns one of the two or three biggest-selling albums in history will be not just playing, but opening for REO Speedwagon at, a show that will probably be a way for overstimulated teens to chill out between rollercoaster rides.

On to Boston

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