Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic Bring Positive Vibrations to the Q

Lesser bands would've seen a half-full arena and phoned in their performances.

Not Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic. The veteran bands, both Rock Hall inductees, gave it their all last night at the Q. While fans didn't fill the entire venue (the upper sections were completely curtained off and the lower bowl wasn't packed), those who did attend the concert reveled in the party atmosphere.

After playing a video about how music has “the power to heal,” Earth, Wind & Fire matriculated onto the stage. Wearing matching sliver sequined outfits, the guys broke into a choreographed dance routine as they played “Shining Star,” their 1975 hit.

The three-man horn section then wailed away on the ‘70s funk number “Getaway,” and the band toned it down for “Serpentine Fire,” a song that featured a slow bass groove and falsetto vocals. “Keep Your Head to the Sky” and “Devotion” again gave the band’s singers the chance to harmonize, but the real vocal show of force came in “Reasons.” Singer-percussionist Philip Bailey, one of only three original members still in the group, took center stage to really let loose, and his emotional vocal performance brought the crowd to its feet. While the song itself came off as a rather pedestrian R&B number, Bailey turned it into a show stopper as he unleashed a piercing wail at the song’s end.

Bailey's performance on "Reasons" set up the 90-minute set’s finale, a sequence that included  “September,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s Groove.” The songs segued into one another, allowing the large ensemble to rock out. A funky bass riff propelled “September” and a roadie wheeled out an extra drum kit for Bailey for “Boogie Wonderland.” The spirited horn section would really shine on “Let’s Groove,” a tune accompanied by trippy animated video.

Throughout the set, the band paid tribute to the late Maurice White, the band's former band leader who died last year. In the wake of his passing, Bailey has capably taken on the role of being the group's front person and guided the group throughout its set.

For Chic and guitarist Nile Rodgers, the concert at the Q came off like a victory lap. After years of being nominated for induction into the Rock Hall, Rodgers was finally inducted into the Rock Hall this year. The significance wasn’t lost on him, either; at one point in the set, he expressed his astonishment at receiving the accolade.

Dressed in a white suit, Rodgers, who tucked his long dreads under a mustard-colored cap and wore sunglasses for the entire performance, functioned as a musical ringleader, giving his band mates opportunities to solo and encouraging fans to put their hands in the air.

“I’ve got the best job in the world,” he said at one point. Prior to playing “Get Lucky,” the dance hit he co-wrote with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams, Rodgers talked about how he was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. In the wake of the diagnosis, he explained that he decided to “write more songs” and “play more live shows.” With Kimberly Davis handling lead vocals, his slowed-down rendition of the tune came off as a beautiful, soulful ballad that possessed a real poignancy and spoke to his remarkable recovery.

Rodgers and Co. also played a medley of tunes that Rodgers had a hand in writing, performing bits of Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out," Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" and David Bowie's "Let's Dance."

By the end of his hour-long set, Rodgers had really gotten the party started. His opening guitar riff in “Le Freak” remains one of the most memorable funk guitar riffs of all time and he delivered it while standing at the edge of the stage, clearly enthused to be playing it once more. He and burly bassist Jerry Barnes teamed up to really kick out the jams on the set-closing “Good Times,” a tune which included a few riffs of “Rapper’s Delight.” Rodgers even led the audience on a cheer, shouting “Chic! Chic!” at the song’s conclusion in a terrific moment of triumph.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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