Ninety-eight degrees in the shade and it’s only June? South Florida definitely needed a cool and fresh break. Thank goodness this particular spectacular was an indoor gig. This wonderful diversion came in the form of three elements: Earth, Wind & Fire. The mega R&B group optimized the ultra jazz/dance/funk/disco/soul music in the 70’s and 80’s. A time when soul/R&B was at the height of its popularity and across the board appeal. It was common place to hear the styling’s of EWF on the same radio station with their musical contemporaries, Elton John, Rod Steward, Aretha Franklin, and Barry White; just as an example. Now that was ‘˜real’ crossover radio.
Still rocking their own special groove EWF hit the Hard Rock stage with class and resounding energy Sunday night. The 12 piece band (including the horn section) never missed a step, literally. Talk about well crafted choreography, amazing. There is no doubt these guys are the real deal and watching them it’s easy to see that they all genuinely love performing. There was no lip syncing during this show; all live all the time. Just the way music is meant to be enjoyed in a live setting. This touring version of the group includes three original members you’re sure to recognize who will actually be celebrating 40 years together in EWF next month: Philip Bailey, whose voice is as good as it ever was ‘” possibly better now with age; percussionist/vocalist Ralph Johnson, and bassist extraordinaire Verdine White (loved the red velvet and gold pants). Bailey’s son Philip Jr. is also in the line-up as a vocalist.
Their 90 minute show consisted of their greatest hits and had the crowd up dancing and singing along most of the show. The opening number had an ‘˜out of this world’ spacey feel as it flowed effortlessly into the familiar groove of “Boogie Wonderland.” You just can’t argue the scope of their gold catalogue. Missing was the usual in-between songs banter that no one can really understand especially if you’re sitting in the back or the balcony of the concert hall. The breaks between the tunes was literally no more than five senconds long. The songs blended beautifully together. Song highlights included, “Shining Star,” “Sing A Song,” and the Beatles classic “Got To Get You Into My Life.” Their ‘˜baby making,’ songs segment was also a huge crowd pleaser. All the romantic tunes were included. “Would You Mind,” “Can’t Hide Love,” Head To The Sky,” “Devotion,” one of my personal favorites, “After The Love Has Gone,” and “Reasons,” which closed out the set. The hits were endless and the devout crowd was not disappointed. Bailey belted out a rather tender rendition of the classic “Betcha By Golly Wow,” with the audience sharing harmonies.
Let’s face it, they just don’t make ‘˜em like they used to. EWF’s show was old-school entertainment at its finest. The vocals, harmonies, instrumental breaks, proved once again that great musicianship IS still alive and well and flourishing. Sometimes you just need to take a step back into a time machine to find it. I’m very glad I along with the sell-out crowd found it June 27, 2010.