And now, because I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath, my thoughts on last night’s concert at the Greek Theater…
First of all, the Greek. It’s a nice venue, very small and intimate; it’s a good place to see a concert. Even the nosebleed seats are fairly low altitude, so there’s not a bad seat in the house — almost. Our seats were pretty good … at first.
Notice I said they were pretty good. We were about halfway down, with good sightline to the stage, close enough to actually see what was going on up there, we had a good view. And then fucking Lurch and his giant stage-blocking head showed up and sat down right in front of me. So this is what the rest of the concert looked like:
But at least it sounded good. I came to the show sort of halfway looking forward to Chicago and kind of “eh” about Earth, Wind & Fire, but I changed my tune pretty quickly once the show started. They opened with both bands on stage together for two or three songs and the whole place was crackling with energy — every single person in the theater leapt to their feet at the first note and it was wall-to-wall dancing as the bands played. This was a crowd that wanted to have a good time.
Then the bands stopped down to schmooze a bit and each talked about how great and inspirational the other was, and then they explained how the joint show worked: the bands opened together and then they flipped a coin to see who played first. The winning band would play solo for an hour, then turn the stage over to the other band who would play solo for an hour, and then both bands would reunite for another half hour to finish out the show. Earth, Wind & Fire won last night’s coin toss, so Chicago took a break while EWF literally rocked the house.
Everyone was on their feet for just about every minute of EWF’s set. They put on a great show with lots of energy and fun and banter and … it was just a great show. The crowd loved it, they loved it, we all loved it together, and everyone was having a blast. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert that had such great energy. I was transformed, permanently, into an Earth, Wind & Fire fan.
Then Chicago took the stage. And proceeded to suck every last bit of energy out of the show. They took a stadium filled with people who couldn’t stay in their seats and put us all back into them. Where EWF’s set was all rhythm and flow and momentum, Chicago’s was a study in how to frustrate an audience. They would get into a groove with a song the crowd liked — and then break it up by introducing band members in the middle of it. They’d play a fast song that was an obvious crowd favorite and get everyone dancing — and then follow it with a slow number no one knew. And everybody got a solo — usually in the middle of a song that didn’t really have a natural place for a solo. They did a guitar solo, and a drum solo, and a bass guitar solo, and maybe another guitar solo. They even did a freakin’ flute solo! It was amazing to me what a choppy and disjointed show they put on. I expected better from a band that’s been touring for 30+ years.
But then EWF took the stage again and both bands played the show out together and all the energy returned and it was fun again. It was an interesting contrast, seeing these two bands playing back to back. EWF was the band that wanted you to let loose, have a good time, and had a good time with you, while Chicago was the band that was concerned for your safety so they bored you so you’d sit down and not hurt yourself having fun. EWF was all about “get up, dance, have fun and get crazy!” and Chicago was all about “slow down, sit down, be safe, be careful!”
One band acted its age while the other, thankfully, didn’t.