Niagara Gazette

June 24, 2013

Chicago kicking things off early at Artpark this week

By Thom Jennings ngedit@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Chicago comes to Artpark this Tuesday for a sold-out performance at 6:30 p.m. You will want to get there early, as there is no opening act, instead fans will be treated to two sets from Chicago that will likely include at least 25 songs.

Before we get into this week’s preview, a few words of advice for concertgoers based on what I’m seeing at these sold-out shows. If you have tickets at will-call, beat the rush and get there as early as possible.

You can save a trip back to the car by not trying to bring in backpacks or large bags that you claim is a purse. Take the lawn chair out of its bag to get yourself through the gate quicker, and most important of all, just be kind and patient.

If you are wondering why Chicago sold out, consider this, the band has 22 studio albums, all of which were in the Billboard top 100. When you add their live and compilation albums, Chicago has had 22 certified gold (500,000 units), 18 platinum (1,000,000 units) and 8 multi-platinum (2,000,000 or more). They have also had 21 top 10 singles.

The band formed in 1967 and released their first album under the moniker “Chicago Transit Authority” in 1969. The album includes the classic songs “Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is?” “Beginnings,” and ““Questions 67 and 68.” Their songs were known for being deeply political.

In the 1970s Chicago established themselves as a serious rock band with a killer horn section. The band’s principle members in the 1970s included bassist vocalist Peter Cetera, keyboardist and vocalist Robert Lamm and guitarist Terry Kath, who was considered one of the greatest guitarists of the era.

Kath died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1978, and shortly afterward Chicago drastically changed their direction musically.

In the early 1980s Chicago was able to accomplish something many bands have been unable to do, they completely reinvented their sound. The Chicago of the 1980s produced s a string of pop hits and love ballads, including “You’re the Inspiration” and “Hard Habit to Break,” which featured Peter Cetera on lead vocals.

Cetera left Chicago in 1985 to pursue a solo career and was replaced by current bassist/vocalist Jason Scheff, whose father was Elvis Presley’s bassist. Scheff’s tenure in Chicago is now longer than Cetera’s.

In the 1990s Chicago recorded “Stone of Sisyphus,” an album that marked a return to the classic Chicago sound of the 1970s. Unfortunately for the band, their record company refused to release it and the album took on a mystique similar to Guns n’ Roses “Chinese Democracy” album. It wasn’t until 2008 that the album was officially released.

The current lineup of Chicago features the original horn section of Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walter Parazaider. Robert Lamm. Singer and composer of hits like “Saturday in the Park” is also still with the band. (Too bad the band couldn’t change the lyrics to “Tuesday in the Park!”)

I saw them in May of last year and they really put on a great, high-energy show that allows each of the band members to shine. Jason Scheff was the original “sound-alike” before Journey’s Arnel Pineda or Foreigner’s Kelly Hansen. He handles the Cetera material with ease.

On Wednesday, the indie/roots band Dispatch performs as part of the Coors Light Wednesday series. Dispatch split for nearly 10 years before reforming in 2011. Since then they have released a new studio album and a double live album. This is their only show in the area and it should do well. Check with Artpark for ticket availability, last week’s MGMT performance sold out the day of the show.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene and Artpark for the Gazette.