Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Customer Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Sign up for newsletter
Album Reviews
Gig reviews
Special features
Get Your EMail Address
Submit your website
Gig Reviews...

Just witnessed your best live gig?.. send us a review!

CHICAGO, Hammersmith Apollo, 6 July 2011

Photos by Noel Buckley

Photo Gallery

Chicago, photo by Noel Buckley

They came, they saw and if they didn't quite conquer, Chicago gently reminded us of the merits of their enduring 4 decade (plus) musical dynasty.

There's a lot to be said for using a mic stand as a prop. It gives the front line players a meaningful connection between their efforts and the crowd and the audience a sense of perspective. It also offers the potential for the grand gesture, the carving of shapes in the void, while in extremis it can even be used with aggressive intent.

None of this applies to Chicago's front line players, who with the exception of keyboard player Lou Pardini don't use stands at all. Come to that they also dispensed with monitors, relying on clamped on radio mics and presumably in ear monitoring.

And while the overall sound was pristine, the radio mics gave an already anonymous band a curiously detached feel, a bit like being at a Level 42 gig.

Chicago, photo by Noel Buckley
Zoom (Click large image to cancel)

Sure the incredible three pronged horn section pumped air molecules for all they were worth and even filled the stage with nifty choreography, but when it came to singing those smoochie ballads, let alone the ball busting rock of the climactic '25 or 6 to 4', it left a void that they worked manfully to fill all night.

The 9 piece band alternated vocals seamlessly, though it was often difficult to appreciate who was singing what. Jason Scheff made the most of his lead vocal parts often sounding uncannily like Peter Cetera, though by the time of 'You're The Inspiration' the band's cream was in serious danger of curdling.

Chicago, photo by Noel Buckley

And almost in spite of the surfeit of radio friendly ballads, Chicago managed to strike a neat balance between their musical history, their innate musical excellence and the MOR hits which so obviously struck a chord with their crowd.

Chicago has always been a band with a musical duality at its core. Originally there was the ground breaking jazz rock of Chicago Transit Authority, but there was always a softer side as evidenced by the early in the set, 'Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is' with its glistening harmonies and stellar horns.

You can add dance to that dichotomy as 'Street Player' pulled the band in the direction of Earth Wind & Fire. But after a succession of soft rock outings and ballads, some of which veered dangerously close to muzak, Robert Lamm seized the moment with some unexpected irony to lever in their million selling 'If You Leave Me Now', telling us that the band was basically a jazz rock combo until the song ruined it all.

Chicago, photo by Noel Buckley

Having waited 40 odd years to see Chicago it also came as something of a shock to realise that the percussion heavy 'I'm A Man' received less recognition than some of the ballads. In the event, it disappointingly became a top heavy vehicle for an overblown drum/percussion duet.

But tonight was really all about a career best for the fans and in that respect Chicago didn't disappoint, bringing six part harmonies to bear on 'Searchin So Long' and some Eagles style harmonies and a startling trumpet motif from Lee Loughnane on 'Baby, What A Big Surprise'.

And as the set finally gathered some much needed momentum with the breezy 'Saturday in the Park' the band finally threw off the shackles on 'Get Away', bringing the faithful in stalls to their feet.

The 2 song encore of 'Free' and '25 or 6 to 4' made everything that went before worthwhile. The horns pumped, the rhythm section thundered, the percussion kicked in and damn it all, the band rocked liked you'd always hoped they would.

Unbelievably after a 2 hour show it was still only 9.50pm and the crowd headed home presumably for their cocoa, it was that kind of night.

Review by Pete Feenstra

Photos by Noel Buckley

Print this page in printer friendly format

Print this page in printer-friendly format

Tell a friend about this page

Tell a friend about this page

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Featured Labels
Label Archive
Do you want to appear here?

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group