Chicago; Earth, Wind & Fire

Live Shots

Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Chicago; Earth, Wind & Fire

Backyard, Oct. 20 As longtime musical franchises with only a handful of original members left, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire joined forces this summer to liberate themselves from the turgid casino circuit. In addition to rejuvenating commercial interest, the tour's Austin whistle-stop demonstrated aesthetic payoffs as well. Far from a standard oldies package, the two bands played both separately and together, freshening up the material and imbuing the three-hour performance with a novel energy neither group could've conjured on its own. Taking the stage as a collective, the mass of musicians started with Chicago's "Beginnings," EWF's "In the Stone," and Chicago's "Dialogue" before feigning a coin flip to decide which group would play first (a real coin flip would've given roadies heart attacks). EWF got the nod and quickly worked the crowd into a funk frenzy with "Boogie Wonderland" and "Getaway." Vocalist Phillip Bailey proved he could still hit jaw-dropping high notes, while bassist Verdine White kept the energy level high with nonstop movement and resplendent fringed pants. The two groups addressed the departed-vocalist issue by trading off. Chicago's Bill Champlin sang lead on "After the Love Has Gone" (which he co-wrote), with Bailey returning the favor on "If You Leave Me Now." Chicago's set didn't have the booty-rockin' energy of EWF's, but their arsenal of hits made up for it. Starting with the entire "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" suite, Chicago wisely focused on its Seventies output, eschewing the Eighties except for the biggest hits. In addition to obvious inclusions like "Saturday in the Park," Chicago also trotted out lesser-knowns like "Old Days" and "Alive Again." Both groups returned with a medley of EWF's "September" and Chicago's "Free," followed by a horn-and-guitar assault on "25 or 6 to 4." Who says easy listening can't rock?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
William Harries Graham
Jakes (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, April 12, 2019

Texas Platters
Hey Cowboy
Sandy Cheeks (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, April 12, 2019

More by Greg Beets
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle