Earth, Wind & Fire; Chicago

Both of these bands were huge in the 1970s, but came at things from entirely different angles. EW&F, formed by brothers Maurice and Verdine White in 1969, embraced eclecticism, mashing up an over-the-top blend of soul, R&B, Latin funk, gospel, pop spirituality, African influences, blazing horns, and the sweet vocals of Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and drummer Ralph Johnson. EW&F also had an affinity for grand pop gestures and elaborate productions, including onstage pyramids. The band racked up a slew of Grammy awards and hits, including the indelible "Shining Star." Chicago Transit Authority emerged about the same time with a sound nearly as ambitious, adding a muscular horn section to rock, offering at least a veneer of jazz sensibility, and a taste of funk in the rhythm section, garnering them play on progressive rock radio. Abbreviated to Chicago, the band scored some decent hits from the next couple of albums, including the energetic "25 or 6 to 4," but thereafter devolved into increasingly unlistenable—but highly popular—middle-of-the-road pap. In recent years Chicago has more often returned to its original inspiration. Both bands sport longtime members, including Chicago's entire horn section and singer/keyboardist Robert Lamm, as well as EW&F's Bailey. Maurice White is still involved in the band, but doesn't tour. Each band is slated to play a full set in addition to joint performances at the beginning and end of the show.
Wed., July 1, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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