Earlier this week, the windy city collided with the elements when Chicago + Earth, Wind & Fire played Rogers Arena.
The legendary bands are on their third leg of their co-headlining Heart & Soul Tour, and for the first time bringing their combined talents to Canadian stages. Between the two bands, they’ve sold more than 200 million albums and amassed countless awards including 20 Grammy nominations. Over the past 40 years, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire have performed live before millions of fans and added a few thousand more at Rogers Arena on Monday.
The co-headlining show is book-ended by both acts performing together with solo sets of their infinite-seeming catalogues of hits in between. Earth, Wind & Fire took their turn first with a selection from throughout their 40 years of performing. Megahits and fan favourites brought soul to the arena as fan got moving to the unmistakable Earth, Wind & Fire sound. With a dozen performers on stage the energy was incredible as the three remaining original members; Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson, lead the charge. Verdine is all over the stage with his trademark eccentricity, Philip’s massive vocal range was hampered by some audio distortion but he’s still a force at 65 years. With the loss of founder Maurice White earlier this year, a reminder of the hands of time, the ‘younger’ members of the band, including Bailey’s son Philip Jr show that the band is in good hands for years to come.
After a short intermission, Chicago returned to the stage with their hit-filled set. The 2016 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductees, haven’t let a little thing like time set them back. Original members; singer / keyboardist Robert Lamm, and Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, and Walter Parazaider the uber-energetic horn section players, are still front and centre while temporary lead singer Jeff Coffey (replacing Jason Scheff during a hiatus) ably fronts most tunes. Throughout the set, filled with sing-along tracks, the feeling that these performers genuinely still enjoy the live experience. The horn section appears especially animated and energized by the live interaction and still look impressed by each other even after 49 years in the business.
And the audience was still suitably impressed as well, for both the solo sets and when the 21 performers regrouped for a closing set. After years of friendship, camaraderie, and tours together the acts perfectly blend to make the combined efforts on closing hits; September, Sing A Song, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Shining Star and 25 or 6 to 4, seem like they were always written with these arrangements in mind.
The Heart & Soul 3.0 tour continues through mid-November and from the energy of the bands and audience, this doesn’t feel like it will be the last time we see these friends touring together. If you haven’t caught them before, go see the show!