Maxwell C. King Center, Melbourne, Florida • October 18, 2013
Chicago has not only survived, but thrived since its inception back in 1967. After more than 45 years, the band continues to perform high-energy shows for enthusiastic crowds craving their unique flavor of jazz-infused rock and pop. And tonight’s sold-out performance did not disappoint.
Taking the stage at 8:05, the nine-member ensemble offered a plethora of fan favorites throughout the first set that leaned heavily on the band’s golden era of the late 60s and 70s, including such stapes as “Dialogue,” “Questions 67 and 68,” “Call on Me,””If You Leave Me Now,” and “Alive Again.” A drowsy mid-set trio included Jason Scheff’s solo keyboard effort on “Will You Still Love Me?” followed by Robert Lamm’s “Wake Up Sunshine” and Lou Pardini’s “Look Away,” the latter two featuring Keith Howland on acoustic guitar, who was absolutely brilliant throughout the evening. The 75-minute first set wrapped up with iconic tracks “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World,” and the band took a 20-minute respite to recharge.
The show’s second half featured 60 rousing minutes chock full of classics including “Old Days,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” “Beginnings,” “I’m a Man,” “Street Player,” “Just You and Me,” “Saturday in the Park” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” as the crowd was on its feet, dancing and clapping along. The dueling drums and percussions between drummer Tris Imboden and percussionist Walfredo Reyes, Jr. during “I’m a Man” offered one of the show’s brightest highlights. A short snippet of “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” rounded out the second set, and the band popped off briefly only to reappear and close the show with “Free” and “25 or 6 to 4,” once again showcasing the stellar guitar work of Keith Howland.
The audio mix was perfect. Additionally, the band looked energized and sounded amazing — and the audience ate it up. Original members Robert Lamm, Walt Parazaider and Lee Loughnane were entertaining as ever, but founding member James Pankow and his showmanship were noticeably absent from the stage. Replacement trombonist Nick Lane, however, was a worthy substitute.
There are few bands today that have endured as well as Chicago. Their energy, professionalism, and dedication to delivering a top-notch live performance keeps them as fresh and relevant as ever — continuing to appeal to audiences of all ages.