This photo is from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, and appears on the cover of the 2 LP set
It was a perfect Chicago evening, a breeze cooled the air as thousands filled every available square foot of real estate of Marion Dewar Plaza. Liz and I brought chairs but didn’t sit in them during the show as there was a section of people standing on the cement pad which would have blocked us from seeing the band if se sat down. I didn’t mind the standing, it was was worth it standing to see the band.
The original Chicago Transit Authority was repped by James Pankow (keyboards and vocals), Robert Lamm (Trombone) and Lee Loughnane (Trumpet, Flute and Vocals). Since the death Terry Kath there has been a many musicians that have called Chicago ‘home’. Canadian Neil Donnel, the latest lead vocalist, performed most of the vocals that were primarily sung by original Chicagoan Peter Cetera and later by Bill Champain in the David Foster era of hits such as “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, “Look Away” and “Hard Habit to Break”. It’s almost like the band looks for singers that can emulate that classic Cetera vocal style.
For the most part this was a hit laden concert, the horns figured prominently (as they should) musically and physically as Lamm, Loughnane and Larry Klimas (who has toured with the band since 2003) took centre stage through out the entire show. Watching James Pankow weld his trombone like a guitar around the stage it shows that he along with the other originals still enjoy hitting the road. This year marks 52 years of touring, Pankow (72 years old), Loughnane (73) and Lamm (75) don’t show signs of slowing down. An extended percussion performance from the duo of Walter Reyes Jr. and Ramon Yslas as entertaining as it was, clearly was meant to give the band a break before the final stretch of the concert.
Musically the band hit most of the songs those attending wanted to hear including ‘Just You and Me’, the encore of ‘24 or 6 to 4’ a rousing ‘Saturday in the Park’, the previously mentioned David Foster hits and a fabulous “I’m am Man” and an amazing ‘Old Days’, one of the personal favourites from the band.
The concert as good as it was, was technically poor, some vocals were hard to hear, the video work was below par and the blending of camera shots on the screen was non-existent.
From this concert I went and purchased the 2018 release of the two LP set of Chicago at the Isle of Wight Music Festival. Performed in August of 1970, included on the album were 5 songs performed in June of 2019 – including ‘Beginnings’, ‘I’m a man’ and ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’. This weeks performance of ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’ was amazing; the opening horns of the the song brought everyone to their feet!
I’ll rate Chicago at Ottawa Jazzfest as 8 out of ten, 2 points lost because of technical shortfalls.
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