Concert Review: Chicago at the Westbury Theater (Long Island, New York 5/19/11)

It was great to have a chance to see a big act like Chicago in the intimate setting of the theater in the round at Westbury Music Fair, now known as the NYCB Theater at Westbury. Sitting in great sixth row seats, we had a real close up & personal view of the band. They were loose, joking around, even talking to each other during the songs.

It was certainly a relaxed show for them even though they were bunched up together on the small stage & had the crowd right on top of them. As they walked down the ramp to the stage they shook hands & high fived the audience. On stage they were very personal posing for the camera phones, pointing to people in the audience, joking around & hamming it up.

The band consists of four original founding members; Robert Lamm (vocals, keyboards & guitar on Beginnings) as well as the now legendary horn section; James Pankow (Trombone, percussion) Lee Loughnane (trumpet) and Walter Parazaider (saxophone, flute).

Jason Scheff (bass, vocals) joined the band after the departure of Peter Cetera in 1985. Since then he has sung most of the Cetera songs, almost to a tee, and has now been involved with the band longer than Cetera was.

Keith Howland (guitarist) has been with the band since 1995, Tris Imboden has been the drummer since Danny Seraphine was let go in 1990 & the band recently added Drew Hester as a full time percussionist.
Chicago rolled out the hits one after another, putting on one hell of a musical show for two full hours without an intermission.

The show was of course a mix of rock, jazz, brass, blues, ballads & a good time, plain & simple. As the band pointed out it was a crowd that spanned many generations.
A complete sell out (they will also be playing two nights in Atlantic City, two New Jersey theater shows & the Beacon Theater in August) to a laid back crowd that were on their feet by the final numbers.

The band has an incredible following that does go back to their first album (Chicago Tansit Authority) in 1969. I was always a casual fan, but got hooked after seeing them live for the first time & now have seen them four times.

Jimmy Pankow is the most animated member on stage, playing the trombone like nothing you ever seen before. In the rock world we are used to seeing guitarist ham it up & pose under the bright lights. But here it’s Pankow who does all the moves & poses with a trombone, to the delight of the crowd. He receives the biggest ovation from the crowd & is always in a good fun natured mood.

Then there’s Robert Lamm, appearing as the laid back, sharply dressed, kool musician guy. His vocals on songs he sings lead on are still amazing. Biggies like; Saturday in the Park, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is, Wake Up Sunshine & my favorite of the night; Beginnings, were all amazing. It’s safe to say that many of the big Chicago hits were written by Lamm & Panko.

I think the quote of the night was when Lamm introduced the band. He said Walter Parazaider had started the band back in the sixties, "it was a good idea! My wife thanks you, my ex wives thank you & my kids thank you!"

Set List 5/19/11- Chicago at the Westbury Theater- Long Island, NY

Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon (Parts I-VII):
         Make Me Smile
         So Much To Say
         Anxiety’s Moment / West Virgina Fantasies
         To be Free/ Now More Than Ever
         Color My World

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is
Dialogues I & II
Alive Again
Call On Me
Along Comes A Woman
Wake Up Sunshine
Old Days
If You Leave Me Now
I’ve Been Searching (So Long)
Baby What A Big Surprise
Hard Habit to Break
You’re my Inspiration
I’m A Man (with drum solos)
Just You & Me
Saturday In the Park
Feeling Stronger Every Day

25 or 6 to 4



25or6to4 said…
This was such a good show & a great review, see you Chicago fans at the Beacon in August!

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