Chicago/Reo Speedwagon BB&T Center Camden, NJ 8/1/18

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Chicago/Reo Speedwagon BB&T Center Camden, NJ 8/1/18

Postby jimmy19029 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:45 am

It's been ten years since I last saw Chicago. And for the better part of the last 15 years or so, they've been settling into a comfortable routine of trotting out the hits in the outdoor summer sheds, usually in tandem with another well seasoned classic act (Doobie Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, etc.). And on the rare occasion that they do release anything new, they might play one or two newbies that are roundly ignored by the casual fans then dropped from the set never to return. But then this is the way it is for most classic acts touring today.

But in recent years, many of our well traveled rockers have tried a new gimmick to pry the diehards, such as myself, out of their homes and back into the arenas: The performing of one or more classic albums in their entirety. Yes, Styx, Kansas, the Doobies and Steely Dan are five other bands that have played shows like this and Chicago decided to try it last year to celebrate their 50th Anniversary by performing Chicago II back to back. I was gobsmacked when they made the decision to continue with it this year, even though most of the summer touring double bills don't allow time for much more than each act's greatest hits. And indeed, I can see they were forced to drop one of the songs, "The Road", from the album to be finished by their 11:00 curfew.

I had been planning on buying a lawn seat and a scalper approached me all ready to sell me one for $40. $40? Well, I knew I could get the same at the window for $20. But then he produced a $60 regular seat in the second section and said I could have THAT for $40. I probably should've dickered with him a bit longer but I agreed to it. After paying the SAME AMOUNT for parking, it was getting to be an expensive evening! Once more, the lady, Robin, I sat next to told me she had given that same ticket to that guy for NOTHING not five minutes earlier! Her husband was recovering from an operation and couldn't make it. Well, she ended up being a pretty cool person to be next to at a show as she was very friendly and TOTALLY INTO THE CONCERT. Most people you sit next to won't even look at you, let alone say hello. That's good & bad, I guess.

A solo guy with a guitar, Michael Tolcher, was the warm up, playing a set of mostly classic rock songs before Reo took the stage at 7:35 for a 65 minute set of their hits and favorites.

They still have the same lineup they had in the early 90s, with drummer Bryan Hitt and guitarist Dave Amato alongside veterans Bruce Hall (vocals, bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and of course, lead singer Kevin Cronin. Reo are celebrating their 51st Anniversary too, though only keyboardist Doughty has lasted the distance. Though not quite the power house of energy he was back in the 70s and 80s, Kevin's voice can still handle the songs without having to key them down too drastically. And he only comments after every third or fourth song now instead of each and every one. But this was probably due to their time limit. He recalled playing the Tower Theater back in 1978 when "Time for Me to Fly" had begun to get heavy Philly rotation, which helped break them beyond the Midwest. And a nice surprise was their tribute to their buddy Tom Petty in a performance of his "Listen to Her Heart".

Chicago has been through several changes of personnel over the years and recent additions Lou Pardini (vocals, keyboards), Ray Herrmann (sax, flute) and Walfredo Reyes Jr. (drums percussion) have been joined this year by THREE MORE NEWBIES: Neil Donnell (vocals, guitar), Bent Simons (bass, backing vocals) and Ramon Yslas (percussion). Lead guitarist Keith Howland and originals Robert Lamm (vocals, keyboards, guitar), James Pankow (trombone) & Lee Loughnane (trumpet) round out the current TEN piece lineup.

Original co-founder and lead guitarist, Terry Kath, was a primary force on that second album, so Lou Pardini, taking over Kath's lead vocals, had alot to do. I wasn't disappointed either. He is a MONSTER of a singer. My only complaint with him was that I wasn't a huge fan of his take on "Call on Me" later in the set. Otherwise.....And there has been alot of bashing of new high tenor, Canadian Neil Donnell who's taken over the Peter Cetera parts, I've seen online. I had no problem with him at all. THE MAN CAN SING! And I really enjoyed his vocals on "Where Do We Go From Here" and thought he really belted it out on "25 or 6 to 4". And he sings 'em all in the ORIGINAL KEYS.

And there was a fine light show and video accompaniment, featuring films of the band in the old days, Vietnam protesters during "It Better End Soon" and young people frolicking during "In the Country", etc.

Lamm announced that the band has been having much fun this summer performing this music that they haven't played in over 45 years and I could tell since everyone played at an energy level that was even higher than I was used to seeing from them. Best show I've seen from the guys in a long time!

They're not done yet! Come on Chicago, I'd love to see you keep it up and drag out more of your classic albums. How about III, or VII, or VIII, or that classic FIRST ONE?

Chicago setlist:

Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon
(Make Me Smile
So Much to Say, So Much to Give
Anxiety's Moment
West Virginia Fantasies
Colour My World
To Be Free
Now More Than Ever)

Movin' In
Poem for the People
In the Country
Wake Up Sunshine
Fancy Colours
Memories of Love
Where Do We Go From Here
It Better End Soon
25 or 6 to 4
Dialogue (Part I & II)
Call On Me
If You Leave Me Now
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
You're the Inspiration
I'm a Man
Just You 'n' Me
Hard To Say I'm Sorry / Get Away
Saturday In the Park
Feelin' Stronger Every Day
(bridge into outro only)

Reo setlist:

Don't Let Him Go
In Your Letter
Keep Pushin'
Can't Fight This Feeling
Tough Guys
Take It on the Run
Time for Me to Fly
Back on the Road Again
Ridin' the Storm Out

Keep On Loving You
Roll With The Changes
Listen to Her Heart
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