by Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire Live at the Greek Theatre & r & I've never been able to decide what I think about reunion tours of once-great bands. The Rolling Stones have become pathetic, but I also realize that's more about me than them. How could the band that created Exile on Main Street betray my captured-in-amber memories by daring to tour well after they become senior-discount eligible? And shouldn't I, as a music connoisseur, be seeking out new stuff -- the next Rolling Stones -- rather than wallowing in a frozen sea of classic rock? Then again, what's wrong with them continuing to do what they love to do? Maybe I should think it's inspirational.
These are the questions you ask as you load the DVD player with this 2004 show by Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire. In the '70s, bands like these -- bands with wide appeal -- were able to develop a huge catalog of hits. Today, I think our tastes shift so quickly that it's only the very rare band that can develop such history. (Chicago, which named its records of original material by number, got up to No. 26.) But my real reason for picking up the DVD is that, despite the fact that Viagra sponsored their recent tour, I'm a sucker for Earth, Wind and Fire. Yes, it's about nostalgia; one of my first 45s as a kid was "September."
This is a great-sounding recording, but the fun part is to compare the bands. Despite losing the clearly faked coin toss and having to open, EWF dominates. They whip the audience wild, especially on their cover of the Beatles "Got To Get You Into My Life." And Philip Bailey can still belt it out. Chicago has some good moments, but Peter Cetera has long ago left the band, and his replacements look like they were born sometime around the time Chicago X came out. Still, they are both really good and provide the highlights on the second disc. Chicago's horn section has always been their trademark, but their preening and cavorting is unintentionally hilarious. Yeah, guys, chicks wanted you bad -- back in '82.
Overall, it's a fun, somewhat pathetic trip down memory lane. Now I just need to get tickets for the next Rolling Stones concert.