A legacy of rock started with 7 in 1967. Little over half a century ago, Chicago musicians Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Robert Lamm, and Peter Cetera formed a group with one dream in mind, to integrate the musical diversity from their beloved city and weave a new sound, a rock n roll band with horns.
Even though members have come and gone throughout the last 52 years, their dream never waned recording 36 albums, with over 100 million albums sold!
with 21 Top 10 singles, 11 #1 singles, 5 Gold singles, 5 consecutive #1 albums, with 25 of their albums holding certified platinum and gold status as well, boasting possession of 47 gold and platinum awards.
Now a 10 piece power-house presentation packed with brass-infused rock n roll featuring Keith Howland on guitar/vocals, Lou Pardini on keys/vocals, Ray Herrmann on sax, flute and clarinet, Walfredo Reyes Jr. on drums, Ramon Ray Yslas as percussion, Brett Simons on bass/vocals with a Montreal born Toronto resident Neil Donell on vocals/guitar all supporting the 3 founding members, composer Robert Lamm on keys/keytar/vocals, the humorously triumphant horn arranger James Pankow on trombone/vocals with Lee Loughnane on trumpet/vocals
The Fallsview Casino presented 2 SOLD OUT back to back nights with Chicago on April 3rd and 4th in the beautiful Avalon Ballroom that sat 1,500 fans each night. Their stellar 2 set performance covered a lot of ground with 29 of their most popular songs spanning 5 decades. Never experiencing them live before, I had butterflies as I honourably photographed and reviewed the musical veterans of this historical session.
They emphasized their creative propulsion as innovating pioneers, who, for just over half a century, continue to break the jazz-rock boundaries presenting that jazzy and brassy flower power rock blended with a near neo-psychedelia. Hit after chart-topping hit, allowed them to become the world’s mass culture movers of the horn band sound, solidifying Chicago’s success, making them one of the bestselling bands of all time.
It’s not just the catchy upbeat songs that keep the crowds listening it’s their endless energy they come to see.
This magical musical night was brassy bombast, knowing that the 3 founding members ages ranged from 71-74, yet, you wouldn’t know it. Their grandiose stage presence and their overpowering expression of their musical
The audience’s infectious response was mellifluous, rich with a good range of sounds as they harmoniously sang along loud and proud to Chicago’s greatest hits catalogue displaying their songs: Introduction, Questions 67 & 68, Dialogue (Part 1 & II), Wake Up Sunshine, Call on Me, (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long, Mongonucleosis, If You Leave Me Now, Look Away, Make Me Smile, So Much To Say, So Much to Give, Anxiety’s Moment, West Virginia Fantasies, Colour My World, To Be Free and Now More Than Ever.
A brief intermission eventuated, with an explosive beginning to their 2nd set with Alive Again, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Old Days. Surging ahead to 1984 with Hard Habit To Break and You’re The Inspiration. This was a confusing few moments for me, as I was spoilt rotten growing up on these 80s hits with Peter Cetera on vocals. Although Neil Donell did a fine job recreating the vocals on these 2 pieces, I sure was missing Peter at this point.
Flipping back in time to ’69 with the song Beginnings into a cover version of I’m A Man (by Spencer Davis Group). Next up were songs from ’79 with Street Player and Just You ‘n’ Me.
Followed by 1982 hit Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away right into the final 2 pieces of the night.
We were told, get up and dance as they broke into Saturday In The Park garnering a standing ovation.
Perfect song choice to end the show, totally depicting their longevity with Feelin’ Stronger Every Day. Their volcanic stamina
A Robert Lamm composed hit from their 2nd album Chicago, that’s right, 25 OR 6 to 4 brought down the house. This hit reached #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100, their 1st song to hit the top 5 in the US.
All in all this showcase was stocked with rejuvenating forms of epic proportions filled with priceless instrumental humour (when James shuffled Keith off stage waving his trombone a had to see it
Age has no bearing when your heart is filled with passion, dedication and musical drive. These men are in impeccable shape, no signs of slowing down, telling us, “Without you, it matters, thanks for sticking around all these years.”
A very special thank you goes forward to BOOM 97.3 FM for putting together such contests for patrons like myself, to enter and to be selected for