Concert Review: Earth, Wind and Fire at Hard Rock Live, June 27

Earth, Wind and Fire
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Sunday, June 27, 2010

Better than: Subjecting myself to YouTube videos of questionable funnies.

The Review:

My last experience on Casino lands involved an hour-long hunt for parking and once said parking was located, a very long walk to my destination on their restaurant/bar/club promenade. So, nervous of that and not wanting to miss the show and get yelled at by my lady friend (who is an EWF freak) and her nine-year old kid (his first concert), we took off from Miami around 4:30 in the afternoon. We were there around 5:15 p.m. and parked in the very first lane of the lot. Oh well. We spent a lot of time fielding questions from the more-inquisitive-than-usual kid which was compounded by a video of EWF performing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival on the bar's TV's.

Entering the Hard Rock was surprisingly smooth and we were in our seats in no time and the sold-out show went down on time. I had the pleasure of spending the first pair of songs in the photo pit amidst some incredible photographic machines pretending my 7 MP point and shoot doohickey could contend. Check out the images laid out here, huh? I'm totally not quitting my day job.

The band came out with a rocking rendition of "Boogie Wonderland" that got the crowd going and this crowd was a little more energetic than the one I witnessed for them at the Fillmore a couple of years ago. Verdine White's incessant maniacal strut was in full effect and the crowd responded enthusiastically. Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson kept it lively with their singing and percussion turns and Philip's son was onstage matching the old man move for move and held his own vocally, though it would be crazy to compare ranges, Sr. is in a realm all of his own.

The nine year old seemed to enjoy himself, singing along (compliments of being bombarded by mom's EWF albums since birth, but I shouldn't talk shit, the same could be said about me and ABBA) and commenting on Verdine's inexplicable energy and he even agreed once, that it would've been a reall bad move to bring in his Nintendo DS. Ah, youth!

"September," "Kalimba," "Serpentine Fire," and "Shining Star" were the crowd-pleasers you've come to expect, but my lady friend was a little uneasy about how "Reasons" would pan out. She's a huge fan and there's a certain "Barry White" effect whenever that song comes up but she's been displeased with how the song's been treated recently with a sort-of dramatic buildup to Philip's non-human wail. And though the buildup was there, it was short in comparison to the rendition we witnessed at the Fillmore and on DVDs. And let me tell you, the crowd went crazy.

People who know me know about my rock and roll leanings, but I will gladly go on record time and time again, that EWF is one of the best live acts I've ever seen. The energy and positivity that transcend the stage are undeniable and I for one can't wait for the upcoming 40th year anniversary album and catching them live again.

On the drive home, of course, amidst humming songs from what was clearly a pleasant first live music experience, the kid demanded McDonald's for dinner. Ah, youth!

Critic's notebook:

Personal bias: The show was shorter than I expected, but I felt like I got my money's worth.

Random detail: I didn't spy it while in the photo pit, but from my seat it looked like Ralph Johnson was wearing a Joy Division t-shirt.

By the way: Seriously, what's up with them heels ladies?!

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Abel Folgar