Al McKay Allstars – Marbella 2011 Report

By Gunnar Homdrum / Pics by G. Edwards

Puente Romano, Marbella, Spain – August 13th, 2011

Al McKay AllStars presenting The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience showed the around 3000 strong crowd at the open air Puente Romano Tennis Club in Marbella what soulful jazz-funk is all about!

Reviving the slick soul/disco horn ridden sounds from the late 70’s at the prestige concert venue, the Al McKay AllStars quickly whipped up a storm with a series of hi-energy tracks. With lead & rhythm guitarist Al McKay, 3 dynamic front men, 4 horn players (incl. Michael Harris, one of the original Phenix Horns members), 2 keyboards, bass, drums and percussion, the 13 piece strong band quickly had the crowd up and out of their chairs. The second song in the set, the Beatles’ original “Got To Get You Into My Life” — covered by EWF in 1978 — made sure of that.

Playing their way through Earth Wind & Fire’s legendary repertoire of feel-good soul/disco and jazz/funk from when EWF were at their height of their game. Every song played were from between 1975 and 1981. Midway in the set and with the funky horn opening of “Getaway” (1976), the band seemed to flick a switch which notched the crowd up into an even higher gear. Fantastic! Then there’s the EWF anthem; the 1975 “That’s The Way Of The World”, where the 3 vocalists surround Al and make him take center stage during his solo. Otherwise, Al stays pretty much in the back of the stage controlling everything with his rhythm guitar.

The plan seemed to be; whip up the crowd, make them dance, dance, dance and then take them off to “Boogie Wonderland” – probably one of the best dance records ever recorded! The plan works fantastically! In between, they perform the classic ballads “After The Love Has Gone”, “Can’t Hide Love” and “Reasons” — where Ed Wynne on saxophone does a great solo before ending up in a musical dialog with vocalist Tim Owens. After a brief curtain call, they returned with the aforementioned Boogie Wonderland and then ended the show with the 1981 hit “Let’s Groove”. This is a 70s music extravaganza and any fan of soul-jazz-funk — and the original Earth Wind & Fire — couldn’t ask for more. The Al McKay AllStar show is absolutely fantastic! Please come back next year!

So… take it from someone who has seen the original Earth Wind & Fire in concert several times; There is not much difference between this “Experience” and the former collaboration with Maurice White. McKay’s band boasts highly talented and accomplished musicians and three smooth front-men. A very tight band indeed! The choreography, the vocals, and the music are in fact of such high quality, that except from the hard-core EWF fan, no one will notice any difference at all between these and the original performers.

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