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Concert Reviews:
Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic bring sweet soul music to DTE
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Save for the Commodores, you’d be hard-pressed to find two band who defined the pop side of soul music during the ’70s and early ’80s than Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic.

That glorious past was the focus during the final stop of the two groups’ 2054 Tour on Tuesday night, Aug. 22, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre -- much to the dancing delight of the 7,000 or so in attendance.

And to each other. Members of EWF were spotted watching Chic’s hour-long opening set from the side of the stage, while Rodgers spent a couple of his tourmate’s early songs fully visible in a front corner of the stage, dancing and hyping up the DTE crowd as EWF roared through its 90-minnute performance.

Related: Chic’s leader is enjoying good times, with more to come

The hits -- 19 Top 20s between them -- kept coming like a diner countertop jukebox, or a vintage disco playlist. The fans, on the decidedly older boomer tip, ate it all up, many on their feet and grooving hard enough to make a prospective orthopedic specialist smile.

Resplendent in gold lamé and white Kangol cap, Rodgers actually began Chic’s set about 10 minutes early, strolling on stage and announcing that, “Our set has to start right on time, so I have to say hello to everybody now so we can just play music.” He chatted with the crowd about his recent health scare (an E.coli infection that forced him to miss the first Chic show ever in his career), the eclipse, what people in the crowd were drinking and playing DTE last summer with Duran Duran.

Chic’s music, meanwhile, did plenty of talking, as Rodgers and his eight-piece band delivered the key favorites -- “Dance, Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” “Everybody Dance,” “Le Freak” and emotive “I Want Your Love” -- and touched on hits the guitarist collaborated on for other artists, including David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” For an extended version of “Good Times,” meanwhile, some VIP fans were ushered on stage to dance with the band, which broke into a bit of Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” which sampled “Good Times” back in 1979.

With Rodgers rooting it on, Earth, Wind & Fire re-established its reputation as a ferociously dynamic live stage band, elaborately costumed (royal blue and yellow, some sparkly, was Tuesday’s motif) and tightly choreographed as the 12-members navigated the three-tier stage. “Shining Star,” “Getaway” and the buoyant “Sing A Song” got things off to a strong start, and EWF only let the fire simmer for the slower likes of “Can’t Hide Love,” “Keep Your Head To The Sky,” “After The Love Is Gone” and “Reasons,” the latter highlighted by Philip Bailey’s still-piercing falsetto.

Some vintage video footage graced EWF’s screens during the night, and “That’s The Way Of The World” became a tribute to group founder Maurice White, who died last year. His younger brother Verdine White, meanwhile, remained a potent instrumental force, his bass up high in the mix. The interlude “Beijo” showed off the current lineup’s rich harmonies, while the likes of “September,” an extended “Boogie Wonderland,” “Let’s Groove” and “In The Stone” had fans dancing even as they excited the venue.

During a pre-show meet-and-greet with some fans, Rodgers described the tour as “a love affair between the two bands” and “magical.” You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone there who felt differently.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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