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article imageReview: Chicago takes fans on a journey through time at Jones Beach Special

By Markos Papadatos     Aug 4, 2018 in Music
Wantagh - On August 3, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Chicago rocked the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Long Island, with REO Speedwagon, as part of the Laid Back Festival.
As Chicago took the Jones Beach stage, an announcement noted that their Chicago II album is being considered for the Grammy Hall of Fame, and rightfully so.
They opened their set with "Make Me Smile," as yellow and purple lights dimmed from the stage. It was followed by the brief yet noteworthy tunes "So Much to Say, So Much to Give" and "Anxiety's Moment," as well as the smooth "West Virginia Fantasies." "Colour My World" was soothing and nostalgic. "To Be Free" was indeed liberating, and "Now More Than Ever" displayed the band's soaring harmonies.
The acclaimed band continued by performing songs from their iconic Chicago II album, which was sheer bliss. They began with "Movin' In," as well as "Poem for the People" and "In the Country," which was a true highlight as green lights dimmed from the stage, and a neat video displayed in the background.
"Sounds like you're enjoying a bit of Chicago," the band said, and the answer was a resounding "yes." They shared that these songs from Chicago II were written out on the road and that they were a response to our country in the '70s. They added that these songs were written from the heart and they wanted to change things through music.
"How many millennials are here tonight?" original member Robert Lamm asked. "You all look great. This one is for you," he said, and sang "Wake Up Sunshine," which had a sunny backdrop in the televised screen. "Fancy Colours" also featured vibrant lights, in yet another stand-out performance.
"Thank you very much. It's great to be back in New York," said original member James Pankow, prior to acknowledging that their summer has been busy, but claimed that New Yorkers "get it." He also noted that the world was crazy back when they wrote these songs, and it is still crazy today. He underscored that music brings us together, prior to introducing Lou Pardini and Keith Howland.
Pardini, with Howland on acoustic guitar, delivered a stunning version of "Memories of Love," which was controlled and compelling. Celebrated Canadian tenor Neil Donell nailed the vocals on "Where Do We Go From Here."
Over the course of the night, moving archived images of political unrest in America displayed on the giant televised screen in the background. They truly made their audience feel like they were part of U.S. history at the time. One of the most powerful images read "Voice Not Violence."
Howland switched over to electric guitar for the spitfire "It Better End Soon," and it featured a killer guitar solo, and they closed the first half of their show with their instrumental and vocal masterpiece, "25 or 6 to 4," where they were able to get the entire audience on their feet. This performance received a standing ovation.
After a 20-minute intermission, Chicago returned for the world's longest encore. They kicked off their set on a high note with "Beginnings." They immediately broke into the Robert Lamm-penned "Questions 67 and 68," which earned them an enormous round of applause. "Equally infectious were "Dialogue (Part I and II)," as well as their smash hit "If You Leave Me Now."
While they were impressive on "If You Leave Me Now," "You're the Inspiration" was their signature ballad that captivated, and garnered them the biggest standing ovation of the night.
Once they belted out their adult contemporary classic "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," they incorporated a medley of "Get Away" and closed with the piano-driven tune "Saturday in the Park," and with the inspirational "Feelin' Stronger Every Day."
The Verdict
Overall, Chicago was able to perform their Chicago II album, front to back, and they did that with grace and excellence. If the Grammy Hall of Fame has any questions or any doubts as to whether or not they should include Chicago II in their hallowed Hall of Fame, all they need to see is a highlight reel of Chicago's live performance at Jones Beach.
Donell delivered on lead vocals and proved to be an exceptional new lead singer. The musicianship of this entire band is tremendous, and their sense of triumph was evident throughout the night. Their music will stand the test of time, and they only get better with age and experience. Their live concert at Jones Beach garnered an A+ rating.
To learn more about Chicago and their touring schedule, check out their official website.
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