Reviewed by Claudio Vernight
Hurricane? What hurricane?
Chicago, the musical force going strong since 1968, exploded on the Greek stage on Saturday night, August 19, in the middle of their cross-country tour, their fifty-sixth-year touring consecutively! With almost fifty cities behind them and another thirty to go, these seventy-year-olds didn't miss a beat as they rocked their hits for almost three hours.
And it was a night of hits, one after another, giving the crowd what they came for, nostalgia-tinged rock and roll. From "Questions 67 & 68" to "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" to the first LP hit, "Beginnings" to the iconic rocker that closed the show, "25 or 6 to 4," they played each with record perfection and intensive energy. Why, even the ballad, "Color My World," which appeared in every high school prom in the seventies, sounded great and the audience "ooh'd and ahh'd" at the start of every hit.
Ten men, most in their seventies, choreographed their movements so nothing looked the same. Some time there would be a front line of five and a back line of five, with soloists moving downstage for more spotlight. Lamm would hop up onto the right riser to play his electric piano and sing lead.
A real team production, it was as Robert Lamm's vocals shot through the bed of rock created by the rhythm section of drums, bass, percussion and keys. But Chicago is known for its horns, the first rock band besides Blood, Sweat and Tears to awaken a generation to them. Yes, I know, there is also Cold Blood, Ten Wheel Drive and Rare Earth but
Chicago brought the horn band mainstream. James Pankow and Lee Loughnane on bone and trumpet, respectively, are originals along with Ray Hermann on woodwinds. They blended into that unique
Chicago sound, complete with jazzy rock solos all night. But the vocals of Lamm and occasionally Neil Donell made the night special.
What a hard-working bunch this is. Many of their songs start with obscure time signatures and they pull them off every time. Look at this set list, with a twenty minute intermission after 15 songs:
Dialogue (Part I&II)
Call on Me
Wake Up Sunshine
(I've Been) Searchin' So Long
If You Leave Me know
Make Me Smile
So Much to Say, So Much to Give
Anxiety's Moment (instrumental)
West Virginia Fantasies (instrumental)
Color My World
To Be Free
Make Me Smile - reprise
Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?
Hard Habit To Break
You're the Inspiration & band intros
I'm A Man
Just You And Me
Hard to Say I'm Sorry / Get Away
Saturday In The Park
Feeling Stronger Everyday
25 or 6 to 4
And after the intermission, it was literally one hit after another. The crowd just ate it up, too. From the tailgating in the parking lots, to the roar of song recognition, the crowd was the eleventh member of Chicago all night. With many approaching the same demographic as the band (a lot of silver and white hair,) those on stage
and in the seats, proved that seasoned citizens can rock. By the end of the show, after they peeled off one number one after another, and their final encore went into the well-known opening riff of "25 or 6 to 4," the audience lost it. They came for
Chicago and they got the very best of
Chicago. Their 38 albums yielded 23 gold, 18 platinum, and 8 multi-platinum, and sales have topped 100 million.
By Sunday Hurricane Hilary had blown through and a 5.2 earthquake hit the coast 80 miles away, but the real natural energy was generated Saturday in the park by ten men on the stage of the Greek Theater.