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Sunday, July 22, 2012 - Page updated at 05:30 p.m.
Earth, Wind & Fire whips Chateau show into boogie fest
By Gene Stout
Special to The Seattle Times
Concert Review |
Chateau Ste. Michelle became a wine-splashed boogie wonderland when Earth, Wind & Fire took the stage Friday night.
A capacity crowd packed the outdoor venue in Woodinville for the 90-minute dance party, which spanned generations and revived long-dormant dance moves, particularly among baby boomers who delighted in getting that groove thing going again. The energy of the crowd in the front rows was like a human booster rocket.
Led by original members Philip Bailey (vocals, percussion), Ralph Johnson (percussion) and Verdine White (bass), the veteran band fused soul, funk, R&B, rock and jazz in an electrifying show that (for the most part) defied the passage of time. While many of the songs were decades old, they seemed very much in the present, as if the set list had been pulled from a recent Billboard Hot 100.
The concert opened explosively with "Boogie Wonderland," "Sing a Song," "Shining Star" and "Serpentine," setting the table for a nostalgic musical feast.
Bailey, who also played congas, inspired awe with his stratospheric falsetto. White's distinctive bass playing, particularly on "Shining Star," infused the show with a powerful drive. A few songs included extended jams, notably Ramsey Lewis' "Sun Goddess."
The 12-member band also featured Bailey's son, Philip Bailey Jr., on background vocals, as well as Morris O'Connor on guitar and Myron McKinley on keyboards. (Founder Maurice White doesn't tour because of Parkinson's disease, but still directs the band.)
The show was technically impressive — with crisp, powerful sound and kaleidoscopic imagery on dazzling LED screens — as well as motorized spotlights and nearly a half dozen robotic cameras capturing images of the performers, from all angles and even overhead.
"Devotion," "That's the Way of the World" and "After the Love Is Gone" were gorgeous and engaging. "Let's Groove" and the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" pumped the crowd into a frenzy. And "September" made them swoon. The concert closed with "In the Stone."
The warm-up act was Seattle-area comedian David Crowe, winner of the 1995 Seattle International Standup Comedy Competition and 1996 San Francisco Standup Comedy Competition.
But it was not a good night for the talented 45-year-old, who was out of sync with a crowd that just wanted music.
Gene Stout: firstname.lastname@example.org
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