Chicago has always been a rock band notorious for lacing jazz-influenced rock with soaring horn sections, not to mention that extensive catalog of power ballads which set the group to notoriety in the 80s. In the opposite corner, Earth, Wind & Fire are one of the most iconic 1970s soul and funk bands still out there on the touring scene, featuring their own massive assortment of classic dance floor favorites.
Setting both of these bands on the same bill for an entire tour not just once, but twice now might come across first as a rather bizarre pairing. What’s really surprising is how well it works in a live scenario, which both bands put on full display during their stop at the Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheater in Tampa, Florida.
The members of Chicago and EW&F emerged from backstage one by one, starting off the concert together and cluttering the stage with two complete setups, including a multitude of percussionists and quite the formidable horn section. The harmonies were explosive as this duo burst into “Beginnings,” “In The Stone” and “Dialogue (Part I & II),” with Chicago’s Jason Scheff and Philip Bailey from EW&F trading off on lead vocals.
After three hard hitting songs as the opener, the rock members sat offstage while the entire Earth, Wind & Fire crew had their own complete set filled to the brim with bold selections. The stage-spanning LED screens flashed bright animations to the cues of “Boogie Wonderland” and “Serpentine Fire,” alongside a choice cover of The Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
The most anticipated songs from both bands were left until the group encore, however EW&F still kept the momentum heading forward with “Fantasy” and a rowdy rendition of “Let’s Groove.” Following a brief intermission, Chicago hit the stage to the themes of “Questions 67 & 68.” Laid back romantic moments flourished following the first notes of “You’re the Inspiration” and “Hard Habit to Break,” which were both met with a large response from the sold out crowd.
A monumental version of “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” backed by the upbeat hard rocker “Get Away” was a clear show highlight, and Chicago kept their rock edge sharpened towards the end of their set with “Saturday in the Park” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.” Both acts rejoined each other for the encore, kicking right into funk favorites “September” and “Shining Star” and concluding with the ever anthemic “25 or 6 to 4.”
While it’s a somewhat unexpected pairing, it’s one that Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire have stumbled upon with much success. Their arena tour continues to power forward across the United States, delivering an evening of music heritage and nostalgia to open ears.
Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire Setlist 3.26.16 Tampa, FL Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheater
In The Stone
Dialogue (Part I & II)
That’s the Way of the World
After the Love Has Gone
Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles cover)
Questions 67 & 68
Make Me Smile
So Much to Say, So Much to Give
West Virginia Fantasies
Colour My World
To Be Free
Now More Than Ever
Call on Me
Hard Habit to Break
You’re the Inspiration
I’m a Man (The Spencer Davis Group cover)
Just You ‘n’ Me
Hard to Say I’m Sorry
Saturday in the Park
Feelin’ Stronger Every Day
Sing a Song
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
25 or 6 to 4