Chicago: a hard habit to break

Chicago @ the PNE Amphitheatre 25/8/17

P.N.E Summer Concert Series
Photo by Quinn Middleton

Having just celebrated their 50th Anniversary, the band Chicago showed everyone on last Friday (Aug 25) at The PNE Amphitheatre in Vancouver that age is merely a number.

With no opening act and very little fanfare, the band hit the stage at 8:30 pm on the dot with the barest of introductions: “Ladies and gentlemen… Chicago!” The attendees of the sold-out show immediately cheered in unison and the band that’s been responsible for selling over 100 million records didn’t waste anytime opening up with “Introduction” and “Questions 67 & 68″.

With a show that clocked in at 95 minutes, Chicago did an excellent job of giving the audience exactly what they wanted: hits and hard-hitting musical riffs that reminded everyone why this band was and always will be, “The rock and roll band with horns”.

The wonderful thing about watching a band that’s been around for 50 years is that you can pretty much guarantee the crowd will go wild as soon as the familiar notes of certain songs hit. Keyboardist Lou Pardini started to play the opening notes of, “Colour My World” and the cheers through the amphitheatre could be heard throughout the entire fair grounds. Watching the audience clap, sing and sway to the song, you knew that everyone was there to enjoy a band that could take them down memory lane.

With fan-friendly banter in-between hits such as, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “Look Away,” “You’re the Inspiration,” and an amazing cover of The Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m A Man”, Chicago reminded everyone that despite being a band that’s spanned decades, they still know how important it is to connect with their audiences. Oh, sure – there was the typical, “Hey, Vancouver, British Columbia (Yes, there was no abbreviation to ‘B.C.’), how you doing, tonight?!” call outs and on at least three occasions founding member Robert Lamm and others did the, “C’mon Vancouver… put your hands together and help us out!!” classic rock stuff, but people didn’t care. Everyone was there to have fun.

The night definitely hit its peaks when relative newcomer on lead vocals Jeff Coffey did a fantastic job on Chicago’s super hits “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” and “Saturday In The Park”. Wrapping up with a huge and powerful version of  “Feeling Stronger Every Day”, the band that wants to “Keep going for another 50 years!” came back for an encore with “Free” and “25 or 6 To 4”.

It was an amazing and wonderful way to spend a nice cool summer’s night, with the smell of the fairway’s kettle corn, hot dogs and mini donuts mixing in with the pure energy of happiness, nostalgia and joy from the crowd. Once the show was over, it felt as though Questions 67 and 68 had finally been answered; yes Chicago still rocks and yes, the PNE Summer Nights Concert Series was worth the price of admission alone.