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Review: Chicago inspirational at Jones Beach, celebrates 50th anniversary (Includes first-hand account)

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chicago,” a voice announced from the stage, as the iconic band kicked off their Jones Beach set accordingly with “Introduction,” and it was followed by the Robert Lamm-penned “Questions 67 and 68,” which earned them a standing ovation.

“How are we doing tonight Jones Beach?” Robert Lamm asked, and the crowd went nuts. They were able to get the fans to put their hands up in the air during “Dialogue (Part I & II).” Jeff Coffey’s rich, powerhouse voice is an eighth world wonder in itself.

After a stunning version of “Alive Again,” where red lights dimmed from the stage, the band shared that tonight they performed a show with The Doobie Brothers, and they praised them for “sounding so good.” “We love being with them,” they admitted, referring to The Doobies.

The band noted that their set tonight was going to be lengthy, especially since they have had a “lengthy career.” “We are now 50 years old as a band,” they said.

They rocked on soaring harmonies on “Wake Up Sunshine,” while “Call on Me,” written by Lee Loughnane, had a smooth and jazzy vibe to it, which featured both a forest and blue background on the giant televised screen. After “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” they immediately broke into the instrumental “Mongonucleosis,” which had a neat Spanish beat to it, and they had the audience clapping along.

One of the highlights in the first half of their show was their hypnotic acoustic rendition of “If You Leave Me Now,” with Keith Howland and Jeff Coffey on acoustic guitars, coupled with Coffey’s crystalline voice. They introduced Coffey as the newest member of Chicago, and the crowd gave him a raucous round of applause.

“Jones Beach, are we having a good time or what?” Robert Lamm asked, and the answer was a resounding “yes.” They went on to dedicate “Another Rainy Day in New York City” to “all the boys in Brooklyn Tech.” They closed the acoustic portion of their show with the infectious “Look Away,” and they picked up the pace with “Make Me Smile” and “So Much to Say, So Much to Give.”

During their second set, their best performance of the night was their live rendition of the wedding staple “You’re the Inspiration,” which earned them a standing ovation, as couples were slow dancing in the aisles.

Equally flawless was “Beginnings,” where they took their Long Island fans on a trip down to memory lane to 1969, while “Street Player” was upbeat, funky and fun.

After their adult contemporary classic “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” they segued into “Get Away” and closed with the piano-driven “Saturday in the Park,” and on an empowering note with the mid-tempo “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

For their encore, Chicago treated Jones Beach to “Free,” as well as “25 or 6 to 4,” where it was evident that they saved the best for last. Keith Howland nailed the lengthy lead guitar solo on the latter tune, which was sheer perfection.

The Verdict

Overall, Chicago was able to take their Jones Beach audience on a musical journey over the past five decades. Their music encompassed such genres as pop, rock, jazz, funk, soul and adult contemporary. They proved that they are a band that gets bigger and better each year they play live. Their fabulous show at Jones Beach felt like three concerts in one (since Chicago performed two lengthy sets, and The Doobie Brothers performed a long set, all of which could have been separate concerts in themselves). If anybody has yet to see Chicago live in concert, they are truly missing out, as they put one of the best live spectacles of 2017. Chicago’s concert at Jones Beach garnered five out of five stars. Congratulations.

To learn more about Chicago and their touring schedule, check out their official homepage.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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