Earth Wind & Fire + Chicago
Allstate Arena; Fri 26
The Windy City’s history of segregation likely kept members of Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago from meeting in the ’60s. During the flower decade, a handful of white college boys did extracurricular work gigging in South Side blues clubs. By 1967, Marshall Chess had already initiated his (doomed) interracial soul-rock experiment, Rotary Connection, when a group of DePaul students formed the cover band that would become Chicago.
But, as it happened, the two greatest brass-heavy bands of the ’70s didn’t run into each other until both had relocated to L.A. by decade’s end. And it wasn’t until the 21st century that they decided to collaborate. Touring together in 2004, EW&F and Chicago wowed audiences playing separately and collectively, at times having a near-orchestra playing both groups’ songs.
Seventies-era musicians are in the minority among current rosters, but when the combined groups jammed, audiences saw a generous slice of pop legends on one stage, including EW&F bassist Verdine White and singer-percussionist Philip Bailey, as well as Chicago keyboardist (and principal songwriter) Robert Lamm and trombonist James Pankow.
The tour led to a platinum DVD and plans to reunite when the time was right. That time is now. For any dreamers who want to imagine Richard J.’s city as a color-blind utopia, this is a chance to see some of the most ambitious musicians of old man Daley’s Chicago join together. Thankfully, in lieu of “Kumbaya,” they’ll be singing “Shining Star” and “25 or 6 to 4.”