Pic Playback: Chicago is still jamming to the beat over a half century later

In 1967, Chicago musicians Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Robert Lamm, and Peter Cetera formed a group with one dream, to integrate all the musical diversity from their beloved city and weave a new sound, a rock & roll band with horns. Here it is in 2023 and they are still spreading their love for music, as was evident at their concert last week at the MGM National Harbor.

It was deemed appropriate that the opening number was a song entitled “Introduction,” which was the first song on their first album that aided in introducing the sound of the band. Since this song was one of the original tracks, it was impressive to see what the current day iteration of the group was able to do with with this sonically. To help keep the original feels to the playlist, three original Chicago members remain: keyboardist Lamm, trumpet player Loughnane and trombonist Pankow.

Lead vocalists Neil Donnell and Rober Lamm segued into their pop song “Dialogue (Part I & II)” which was a duet between the two singing both parts and was just really cool to see it live.

Following up was fan favorite song, “Questions 67 and 68,” where again Donnell would take the lead.  When groups start to rotate lineups for whatever reasons, the change may not particularly resonate with the fans. In this case things out how they were supposed to because it was truly amazing how much he imitated Cetera’s voice but also made the songs his own, bringing his own personality into it.

After a couple of slower tracks, they performed one of my favorite songs of the night. “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” a twelve-minute suite written by James Pankow. The band was extremely tight and you could tell some of them had been performing this song for over a half century. Half way through the song it transitioned to one of the highlights of the whole band’s catalog in my opinion “Color my World.” Lee Loughnane had now taken ownership of the as the voice on this track, and did an amazing rendition of the classic song.

After a twenty minute intermission, a plethora of hits continued to roll in as the band blew new life into “Hard Habit To Break,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “I’ve Been Searchin’ So Long,” and “Old Days.” To close out the night, they used the upbeat rocker “25 or 6 to 4” before graciously taking a final bow and exiting the stage to a standing applause. We’re not sure exactly HOW they jammed 56 years of music into a little under a two hour concert, but they some how made it work.

With not many of our legendary bands still around or performing, we would definitely recommend going to see these guys especially if you’re a fan of the band because I don’t know how much longer they are going to be touring.

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