Earth, Wind & Fire hit the stage at Osaka’s Festival Hall at 6 p.m. sharp Saturday night, and thrilled their extremely enthusiastic fans with 22 of their biggest hits for the next two hours.
There are plush seats in Osaka’s newly rebuilt concert venue, but no one used them throughout the duration of this tightly choreographed show.
The audience of mostly seniors, but also many 20-somethings danced, boogied, swayed, waved their arms in the air, dropped tears and at one point even jumped.
On stage, the 12 members of the group including three of the original members from the group's origin back in 1970, Ralph Johnson (slamming on drums and adding texture to the vocals), Verdine White (at 65 years young still whirling and bouncing on bass in sequined pants that sparkled like a freshly poured glass of champagne) and Philip Bailey (soaring higher than ever with vocals that stretched to the heavens and beyond.)
Adding new energy to the hit-filled show was Philip Bailey’s son, Philip Bailey Jr, and a spring-loaded David Whitworth who covered many of the vocal parts originally reserved for the late Maurice White.
And speaking of Maurice, the band warmed the hearts of his ever-adoring fans with a tribute that included a video projected onto a huge screen behind the stage that included an almost perfect ‘live’ lip-sync of Maurice performing “Serpentine Fire” while being covered by Whitworth. The video was of a concert from sometime back-in-the-day that also included many shots of former EWF member Al McKay who is still performing the hits of EWF with his band called Al McKay’s All Stars.
High points in the show... well the entire show was a high point from beginning to end as the band radiated chicken-skin performances and added a few new unexpected (but welcomed) musical elements to hits like “Shining Star,” “Can’t Hide Love,” “Sing A Song,” “Saturday Night,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Love’s Holiday.”
But if there were even higher points, it would have been with the horn section that provided perfectly executed brass flair and embellishments while Morris O’Conner and Serg Dimitrijevic took turns bouncing McKay’s funky guitar licks off Verdine’s unrelenting bass lines.
And then, there’s Bailey who led the show, looking very comfortable on stage. Personally, I’ve been attending EWF concerts since the very beginning some 47 years ago and have got to say Philip’s voice seemed in the best condition ever! He added vocal gymnastics to their potato-rubbing, dance-floor hit “Reasons” and soared into the stratosphere during the climax of show-ending performance of “Fantasy.”
No matter what your age, this is a show not to miss! Their next performance is in Tokyo on Monday night, from 7 p.m. Nippon Budokan, followed by shows in Sapporo (May 24,) Shizuoka (May 26) and Hiroshima (May 27).
When the band returns to the U.S. this summer, beginning July 12, they’ll be joining up with the legendary King of Disco, Nile Rodgers (of Chic fame), for a tour that will include New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston and Washington DC and finally Detroit. These concerts will feature a specialized seating configuration toward the front of the stage where seats will have additional space between them to encourage audiences to dance the night away.
More info on the EWF Official Website: http://www.earthwindandfire.com/© The Kong Show