There is a lot of symmetry to Chicago and Summerfest â€“ Chicago was formed 45 years ago in 1967, the Big Gig is celebrating its 45th year â€“ so it seems only fitting the two icons in the music industry shared a day Sunday at the BMO Harris Pavilion on the shores of Lake Michigan.
It also seems only fitting that Chicago headlines a stage at the Big Gig the same day as The Beach Boys â€“ celebrating their 50th anniversary tourâ€“ as the rock group from the Windy City is second only to the California rockers in Billboard singles and chart success among American bands.
The band has changed quite a bit from its inception nearly five decades ago, and, of course, has been fronted since 1985 by Jason Scheff, but the group played all of the songs people wanted to hear, as well as some deeper cuts.
The two-hour set started slowly, as keyboardist Lou Fardini handled many of the early vocals during the four songs that featured heavy horns and instrumentals. In fact, some fans in the standing-only area outside the pavilion walked away during this time, and the pavilion crowd was relatively subdued.
The fifth song was "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," which was led vocally by Bob Lamm, and it seemed to get the crowd stirring. Two songs later Scheff performed "Alive Again" which then brought the show to life.
Trumpet player and founding member Lee Loughnane introduced the following song by saying, "We already had a few hits under our belt and we thought we were established music stars. When this song came out, we were established as international stars."
That song was the group's only Grammy winner and a chart topper, "If You Leave Me Now."
From there the band transitioned into many of the hits from the Peter Cetera era such as "Hard To Say I'm Sorry/Get Away," "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're The Inspiration." Scheff was properly warmed up and he received help from Fardini, Bob Lamm and Loughane with the harmonies.
Having been performing these songs for nearly 30 years, Scheff knows his range and what he can and can't do. While everyone has Cetera in their head on those songs, they didn't enjoy it any less â€“ and it wasn't performed any less solidly â€“ with Scheff manning lead vocals.
Early hits like "Beginnings" and "Saturday in The Park," which was a long time concert opener for the band, instead came near the end with vocals by Lamm.
Founding member James Pankow then spoke to the surprisingly diverse crowd of baby boomers and people in their late 20s and early 30s when he introduced "Will You Still Love Me?" by saying "We think this song has two distinct audiences: One that got married to it, and one that got conceived to it."
The song also featured a strong flute solo by founding member Walter Parazaider.
After a very, very brief pause, the group came back for an encore that featured "25 or 6 to 4."
The group's musicianship was sharp and the signature horns were on point, though several long instrumental interludes did suck some of the energy out of the crowd.
While the pavilion was not sold out, the standing room area grew to reach the vendors behind them, and many fans who were leaving the Beach Boys show stayed on the ramps to listen in â€“ especially during the trio of "Will You Still Love Me?", "Saturday In the Park" and "Hard To Say I'm Sorry/Get Away."
Chicago knows what it is at this point â€“ a band that made a lot of hits that people love â€“ and they know that's what people want. I do give them credit though for knowing themselves, too, and allowing Scheff the time to get himself vocally ready to tackle many of Cetera's signature songs.
There was plenty of dancing by young and old, which is a testament to the staying power of Chicago's music â€“ as well as its ability to still entertain after 45 years.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jim Owczarski
Published June 12, 2017
A golf course is a living thing, with insects, grasses and trees all affecting how it plays on a given day. All of those things, and a host of others, must be managed daily by that course's superintendent to make it playable for the golfer. It's a long day, with a lot of duties and I gave it a try.
Published April 27, 2015
Tyler Thornburg has been pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers since 2012, but last year was to be his first as a full-time reliever. He started well, but was then lost for the year with an elbow injury. He is back and healthy at the start of 2015 and hopes to prove, again, that he belongs in the majors.
Published April 23, 2015
Some many call him a question mark in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup, but Khris Davis was feeling confident about himself and the team as the 2015 campaign got underway.
Published April 21, 2015
As the Milwaukee Bucks attempt to lock up a playoff berth in the final few games of the year, second-year forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is proving to many that he can be a force to be reckoned with. You see the action on the court, now, but it was the lonely hours in the gym before his family arrived from Greece last year that laid the foundation.
Published April 17, 2015
It was one year ago today that former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl introduced Wes Edens and Marc Lasry to the city of Milwaukee as the new owners of the Bucks franchise. The pair would not, formally, be considered the owners by the league for a few weeks yet - but the press conference on April 16, 2014 signaled the start of a new era. A lot has happened in 365 days. Read on for some of the big moments.
Published April 15, 2015
Jabari Parker hasn't played a game for the Milwaukee Bucks since Dec. 15, 2014, and he may not play another one until that date later this year. Or maybe slightly before. Or after. It's the great on-court unknown for the franchise. But what if he didn't get hurt? It's possible that his injury affected more than just the team - it could've swayed public sentiment regarding the arena.
Published April 13, 2015
As the spotlight widens on the ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks and politicians around the state regarding the construction of a new Downtown arena, the Milwaukee Admirals have been left in the shadows. As of now, there are no plans to have the Admirals as a part of the new multi-purpose arena.
Published April 10, 2015
OnMilwaukee.com Sports Editor Jim Owczarski is taking off on a new adventure, leaving the Cream City after over three years. It's been fun, very memorable, and full of fun people, places, drinks and food. On his way out, he shares with you some of his favorites in all of those categories.
Published April 9, 2015
Believe it or not, we are now closer to a decade removed from Tiger Woods' last major championship than we are to his last run of sustained dominance in the game. The greats, always, lose their edge and become shadows of what they were. But Woods' decline was so sudden, the game hasn't quite yet recovered.
Published April 8, 2015
The Milwaukee Bucks aim to create a true urban plan around its new Downtown arena, and the billion dollar concept could have far reaching effects. Read on to see how some in the community feel about the project.