Do you like Earth Wind & Fire?
This to me is one of the defining questions about your musical tastes. Why? Because, for a band who has survived over 40 years in the music business, penned so many albums which have spawned so many hits. A Band that can satisfy both the music purist and the commercial music lover and has had spin off connections that reach from the most avant garde musical tastes to the most pop and commercial, your view of them says a lot about your musical view as a whole. So it was with this in mind that I hurried to see the Al McKay's Earth Wind & Fire Experience at the Puente Romano Tennis Club this August.
Again many music purists question the credibility of cover and tribute bands whereas my view of them is pretty consistent with my view of music. If they are good, then they are a good thing and if they are not, then they are not. That said knowing that only one member of the original line up would be present created a certain amount of trepidation on my part as I was worried that the result would be the latter, but in fact I couldn't have been more wrong.
The Al McKay Earth Wind & Fire Experience was a sensational show to watch. In contrast to what occasionally occurs when the full original line up of a band with a 40 year history appears i.e. lacklustre performances and zero energy from having lost their enthusiasm many eons ago, I got to experience what it must have been like to see the original Earth Wind & Fire in their heyday. By the inclusion of younger and very energetic singers and musicians, we were treated to the kind of accomplished and polished show that only the Americans can create. Slick dancing, incredible vocals, great instrumentation, crowd participation and of course a nonstop list of brilliant hit songs. As an EW&F fan I was pleased that they did not only stick to the crossover stuff that they are most famously known for. "Shining Star" and my personal favourite "That's The Way Of The World" made an early appearance as did their timeless classic and rare improvement on an original, their cover version of The Beatles "Got To Get You Into My Life." Personally I would have preferred more representation of the music they made circa the early 70s but I guess there is only so much you can fit into a two hour show and like all good showmen they had to play to their audience and roll out the hits, and this they did and then some.
"After The Love Has Gone," "Reasons" and "Fantasy," (and no, the singer could not hit that 5th octave Phillip Bailey note much to the amusement of myself and the two young girls next me who had been jamming constantly to the band throughout the night), had the whole auditorium begging for more whilst "Boogie Wonderland," "September" and "Let's Groove" had the whole audience up on their feet.
What was also great to see was the sheer age range at the show. There was the usual contingent of kids who had been dragged to the show by their parents staying at the hotel who couldn't get a babysitter and spent the night on their Nintendos or mobile phones on Facebook. But like the two ladies I previously mentioned there was also an age range from what looked like about 15 to about 70, of people dancing, partying and singing along to every word of their favourite songs from their favourite era of Earth Wind & Fire which is something very few groups could achieve and was absolutely magical to see.
The show itself was stereotypical classic black American entertainment. Polished and slick just like a US big budget movie or sitcom that you promise yourself you are not going to like because it seemed corny and contrived but you end up being thrilled and excited by and falling in love with all the same. The vibe and the spirit behind the polish and suave was just too overwhelming and irresistible to fight.
Do you like Earth Wind & Fire? To me a defining question in gaining an idea of someone's musical barometer. Well for myself and the hundreds of the people at the Puente Romano Tennis Club of all ages, sexes and backgrounds the answer was a resounding yes. We loved you Al McKay and the Earth Wind & Fire Experience. Come back soon.
Grande Gordo Papa