When Loverboy plays on a Friday night, there is little doubt what they're working for, and when the Canadian veterans of 1980s arena rock played the Chickasaw Entertainment Stage at the Oklahoma State Fair, they worked for the crowd's applause. And, of course, the weekend.
To Loverboy's credit, the band's lineup is almost completely intact from their early 1980s glory days. Singer Mike Reno, guitarist Paul Dean, drummer Matt Frenette, keyboardist Doug Johnson and bassist Ken Sinnaeve, who replaced Scott Smith after his death in a 2000 boating accident, still sound like Loverboy. On the opening “Notorious,” “Lucky Ones” and “Queen of the Broken Hearts,” Reno proved he could still hit the notes, and the band still has the professional chops. In the early run, the audience was especially appreciative of Johnson's sax and keyboard solos on “Take Me To The Top,” which took the band on a mellow side trip into a cover of The Doors' “Riders On The Storm.”
Reno, 58, does not look much like the man who rocked the red leather pants on the videos from 1981's “Get Lucky” — he's gained weight and remained stationary through much of the set. But he's maintained most of his vocal range in the intervening years, and that is what mattered for the approximately 2,000 fans. Whether he was singing the 1985 power ballad “This Could Be The Night” or an early single like “The Kid Is Hot Tonight,” he sounded like the Mike Reno they remembered.
Like many of their contemporaries and occasional touring mates Journey and Styx, Loverboy is a nostalgia act now and most of their set was at least 26 years old. But these guys have not resorted to bionic parts to keep the band going. Even Sinnaeve, the relative newcomer, was in Streetheart, Dean and Frenette's pre-Loverboy band.
Give Loverboy credit: they might not be in the arenas anymore, but all the way to the final four hits — “Turn Me Loose,” “Working For the Weekend,” “Lovin' Every Minute of It” and “Jump” (theirs, not Van Halen's), they put in the effort like it was a mid-80s headlining night at the Myriad. For the state fair crowd, that counted for a lot. When Reno wrung out about a cup of sweat from his bandanna at the end, it was earned.
— George Lang