Whoever’s idea it was to pair Earth, Wind & Fire with Chic featuring Nile Rodgers on “2054 The Tour” should’ve thought of the combination a lot sooner because bridging both immensely influential worlds resulted in a non-stop “Boogie Wonderland” at the United Center. For about three hours between the two bands, there was a hardly a moment that passed without a hit or someone dancing in an aisle, while the fact that each veteran act continues to attract a youthful crowd is a testament to the material’s endurance.
As a swarm of fans and guests enveloped the musicians, it looked like a scene that could’ve come straight out of Studio 54, but despite lacking a spinning disco ball, the evening emitted so much sparkle it was no wonder why Rodgers kept his tinted glasses on the entire time.
For Earth, Wind & Fire (led by main men Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson, alongside a supplementary cast), that meant everything from the horn and percussion-stacked “Shining Star” and “Sing A Song” to the easygoing grooves of “Can’t Hide Love” and “Devotion” on a three-level stage enhanced by pyramids and all the other EWF elements flashing across the massive monitors. In watching the sheer scope of the show and listening to all the selections that contributed to the group’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, it was apparent just how much modern day entertainers such as Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Drake and surely many others owe these guys.
The survivors also offered gratitude to their late founding father Maurice White, who received a royal tribute throughout “That’s The Way Of The World.” The heaven-sent harmonies continued on “After The Love Has Gone,” though Bailey may want to consider delegating some of the highest portions of that track and “Reasons” to his younger collaborators.
Nonetheless, he’s still a charismatic showman who could easily carry the faster tunes, plus White remains just as effervescent of a player and presence. Even the low-key Johnson enhanced several selections with flavorful percussion, most notably an African-styled breakdown during “Boogie Wonderland,” while the entire audience may as well have been honorary Earth, Wind & Fire members come “September,” “Let’s Groove” and “Fantasy.”
Fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nile Rodgers led the current edition of Chic through his more than 300 million album sales as an artist, writer and producer. The recent cancer fighter actually came out early to make sure nothing major would be missed, including the band’s “Everybody Dance” and “I Want Your Love,” along with his work on Diana Ross’ “Upside Down,” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”
The infinitely sampled band also brought it all back to the beginning for “Le Freak” and “Good Times,” mingling the latter with its leader’s co-write on The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” As a swarm of fans and guests enveloped the musicians, it looked like a scene that could’ve come straight out of Studio 54, but despite lacking a spinning disco ball, the evening emitted so much sparkle it was no wonder why Rodgers kept his tinted glasses on the entire time.
Upcoming concert highlights at the United Center include Kendrick Lamar (Jul. 27); Roger Waters (Jul. 28); Bruno Mars (Aug. 16, 18 and 19); Kendrick Lamar (Aug. 20); Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey (Aug. 26); Imagine Dragons (Oct. 18); Katy Perry (Oct. 24 and 25); The Weeknd (Nov. 2); Guns N’ Roses (Nov. 6); Jay-Z (Dec. 5); and Andrea Bocelli (Dec. 6). For additional details, visit UnitedCenter.com, LiveNation.com and Ticketmaster.com.