Monday, July 19, 2010

Boomer rock invades Starlight Theatre

On Sunday night two of the bastions of 1970s Top 40 and FM radio came to Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO, for a concert packed with hits and nostalgia.

The Doobie Brothers and Chicago tour enticed over 5,000 concert-goers out on a night where temperatures started in the 90's and didn't abate much, even when the sun went down. The steamy temps seemed to sap the crowd of some of its energy early, when the Doobies took the stage, but it didn't take long for folks to get up in the aisles once the band hit the first notes of "Jesus Is Just Alright." The band filtered in some of their less-known material but truly hit their stride with an ending trio of "Black Water," "Long Train Running," and China Grove."

The Doobies gave way to Chicago, who took the stage around 8:30. And, about 90 minutes later, the band, led by original members Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Lee Loughnane, had cruised through "Ballet for a Girl in Buchanen" (featuring "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World"), "Dialogue," "Old Days," and several other of the their Top Ten hits, ending with "Feelin' Stronger Every Day."

The climax was a joint encore where all 18 members of both bands overwhelmed the Starlight stage with "Rockin' Down the Highway," "Free," "Takin' It to the Streets," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," "Listen to the Music," and "25 or 6 to 4."

It was a night for the numerous Baby Boomers in the crowd to hearken back to both bands' numerous albums, radio hits, and previous appearances in Kansas City. For the most part, both groups delivered on re-creating those wonderful memories although Chicago's performance pointed out the huge vocal gaps left by the departure of original members Terry Kath (accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound) and Peter Cetera (solo career.) Let's just say that "Colour My World" is a much different love song without Kath's bluesy voice.

My very first concert experience was Chicago at Memorial Hall (Kansas City, KS) so this is a group which has always held special memories for me. And, what I found ironic was this band--in place now for 43 years--who started so radical and revolutionary has now evolved to a group which pitched both the American Cancer Society, from the stage, as well as an autism foundation. So, while the group has lost members, it has not lost its sense of social conscience and responsibility.

It was a great pairing of two bands who can still bring it. And, as a result, many Boomers left satisfied and humming hits that highlighted their high school and college years.

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