Niagara Gazette

June 26, 2013

Chicago puts on quite a party Tuesday night at Artpark

By Thom Jennings ngedit@niagara-gazette.com
Night & Day

Night & Day — LEWISTON — It was another day in the park, people dancing, people smiling, a man playing guitar, singing for us all. Chicago made it feel like a Saturday in the park, with a powerful performance that touched on all phases of their incredible career.

Even though the studio versions of Chicago’s songs propelled them to stardom, they are a band whose music is meant to be experienced live. With their signature sound propelled by one of the best horn sections in modern music, Chicago is able to turn an amphitheater into what feels like the greatest wedding reception of all time.

Whether they are performing a powerhouse number likes “25 or 6 to 4” and “Feeling Stronger,” or power ballads like “Hard Habit to Break,” it all weaves together to create an incredibly diverse evening of music that should not fit together, and yet it does.

As a band, Chicago does not have a sole member that stands above the rest. In many ways, the departure of Peter Cetera many years ago when he began becoming larger than his band, proved to be a blessing in disguise for Chicago.

Throughout the evening’s performance, the instruments changed, the vocalists changed and every member had an opportunity to bask in the spotlight. Even the drummer and percussionist were given a drum solo, and it was done so well nobody went rushing to the restrooms or to get beer during it.

The band played two sets, and each set could have stood on its own. The first set featured some classic numbers like “Questions 67 & 68” and The Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” a suite that features “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World.”

It was during the second set that Chicago put on the evening’s best performances on both the ballads and the up-tempo numbers.

Jason Scheff nailed the vocals on “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re the Inspiration.” During those songs couples danced together and there was not a female in the venue that wasn’t singing along with every word (the guys were too even though they probably wouldn’t admit it).

The band really caught fire during their version of the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man.” The song began with five band members each playing a different percussion instrument and creating a solid grove.

They followed that up with “Street Player” a disco song from “Chicago 13” that has aged well, especially since the disco era is looked upon with less disdain than it once was.

The evening’s high point was when the band played “Saturday in the Park” near the end of the second set. Considering how many years they certainly have been playing the song it’s incredible that they can still play it with such enthusiasm and conviction.

The same can be said for the closing number, “25 or 6 to 4” a song that has been around over forty years and yet it is still a showstopper.

Chicago’s performance at Artpark on Tuesday set the bar high for future performers in the Tuesday series. They definitely lived up to their reputation as one of the greatest party bands of all time.

 

 

 

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.