Concert Review: Earth Wind & Fire in Toronto

Earth Wind & Fire
Casino Rama
Toronto, Ontario
August 9, 2008

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Earth Wind & Fire stormed through Toronto, Ontario and showed everyone that they can still bring the house down.  Back to back sold out shows were indication that EW&F fans have been tolerant since their cancellation a few years ago.  Everyone put on their Sunday best and headed out with their dancing feet forward.  Original members Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and  Ralph Johnson brought along a few new faces to help them do what they do best.  All the elements were in unison and meshed together freely to bring a sensational start to the show.

Earth Wind & Fire
Casino Rama
Toronto, Ontario
August 9, 2008

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Earth Wind & Fire stormed through Toronto, Ontario and showed everyone that they can still bring the house down.  Back to back sold out shows were indication that EW&F fans have been tolerant since their cancellation a few years ago.  Everyone put on their Sunday best and headed out with their dancing feet forward.  Original members Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and  Ralph Johnson brought along a few new faces to help them do what they do best.  All the elements were in unison and meshed together freely to bring a sensational start to the show.

The moment EW&F took the stage the festivities began.  One would say that opening with "Boogie Wonderland" would be quite predictable, yet that is exactly what they did.  However, one has to remember that their catalog is full of classic hits one after the other, therefore any song with which chosen   would be deemed "predictable".  For that reason, it would be hard for the group not to follow up with another predictable track such as "Sing a Song."  Song after song brought everyone back to a point in time when EW&F's music was prevalent in their life. Whether it was on roller skates at the roller rink or walking hand in hand with a loved one, you were transported back in time.   After the string of songs, each player had his own solo.  Verdine White still has and will forever have flair - funky outfit, permed hair and bass in hand - he plucked his instrument with precision delivering sounds of mellow bellows that made you fall into the funk of his groove.  The tone was then slowed down to a sweet, heavy and sticky blues set that had everyone contemplating a trip down south. 

Midway through the show, Phillip Bailey and Ralph Johnson came together for an instrumental duet of drumming and vocal harmonies that are not to be forgotten. Phillip Bailey's vocals are still as crystal clear as you remember them being 37 years ago and his vocal instrument has stayed well tuned.  Their musical director Myron McKinley played the keyboard with such passion and verve, while notes emanated like a summer heat from Bobby Burns Jr's trumpet reminiscent of a Spike Lee soundtrack, everyone was fluid right from the first note, to the last  choreographed step.

With the groove slowing down for tracks "After The Love Is Gone" and "Reasons," the crowd was somewhat satisfied.  However, "Love's Holiday" and "Can't Hide Love" were overlooked by the group and had patrons asking "what about" after the show.  A truck load of funk was delivered by  EW&F in a nonstop show full of soul, blues and jazz.  They did not disappoint the eager crowd, full of overjoyed fans cutting a rug to their favorite tracks. Before closing, EW&F turned the venue into a club with "September," "Let's Groove," "On Your Face" and "Keep Your Head To The Sky." 

This concert was clearly aimed at "grown folk," particularly thosewho enjoy a little bit of brass in their music or perhaps a little live bass.   Whatever your choice was that night, you could not go wrong. Even though we are missing Maurice White on lead, the group is still a well oiled machine and extremely well seasoned in what they do.  This group will continue to be timeless and will forever be a dominant force in soul music.  Earth Wind & Fire is musicianship at its best.

Ann Marie Collymore
www.soulafrodisiac.blogspot.com

 

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