I need to stop going to so many kick-ass classic rock shows. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. From Crosby, Stills & Nash downtown to Styx in Orange County to The Eagles at The Forum, I’ve had one incredible experience after another that I can’t stop yapping about to anyone who will listen.
As impressed as I’ve been by the modern acts I’ve seen here in Southern California, none can compare to the evenings I’ve spent with some of the greatest rock and roll performers of all time. Are you starting to suspect that I had an amazing time seeing Chicago at Long Beach’s Terrace Theatre on Sunday night?
The phenomenon known as Chicago, who are second only to the Beach Boys among American bands in chart success, is composed of nine astonishingly talented musicians who have obviously sold their souls to Satan. I can’t think of any other explanation as to how any performers, let alone horn players whose lips are their living, can be so supernaturally good after forty-seven years. Yes, I said forty-seven. Four of Chicago’s members, including the entire horn section, have been with Chicago since the Johnson administration. You tell me that’s not indicative of a bargain with the Devil, or at least powerful sorcery.
Robert Lamm, original member and lead vocalist, assured the eager audience at the show’s beginning that we’d hear all we came to hear, and he wasn’t shitting us. Over the next three hours or so, Chicago reacquainted us with both their varied and extensive catalog and the band members themselves. It’s hard to imagine nine guys in a band being able to distinguish themselves individually multiple times throughout a show, but Chicago’s members are just that talented. It’s also hard to imagine a 66-year-old trombone player being the sexiest man in a packed room, but there you have it. James Pankow, ladies and gentlemen.
It’s hard to choose a most impressive thing about Chicago. The ambitious composition and arrangement of their music, their exceptional performance of those arrangements, the extraordinary musicianship apparent in that performance, the endless fun that all nine guys are having every single second they’re onstage — all of these factors and a sweet-ass ten-minute dual drum solo combined to create a singularly awesome live Chicago experience. I don’t mean “awesome” in the general sense, as in “pizza is awesome” or “my hair looks awesome right now” — I mean “awesome” as in the Wonders of the World or Jon Hamm’s junk, i.e., wondrous.
Chicago continues their North American tour through August. If you take anything away from this gushfest, I hope it’s that you should see them if you get the chance. You won’t be sorry.