Earth Wind & Fire
Brought The Heat
July 6, 2019
The ubiquitous 1970’s party band, Earth Wind and Fire brought their brand of funk, rock and smooth R&B to the beautiful, brand new Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater. The band grooved onto the stage and proceeded to play one of the best one, two punches that would rival any band: “Sing a Song” and “Shining Star.”
Lesser bands would have to save those hits for the encore.
Earth, Wind and Fire was founded by Maurice White in 1969 and has gone through many incarnations since then. Although White passed away in 2016, three long standing members remain: bassist and co-founder Verdine White, vocalist/percussionist Philip Bailey and percussionist/vocalist Ralph Johnson have kept the essential elements alive for over 45 years.
The stage was packed with the 12 member band which included: 2 guitarists, a 3-man horn section, a keyboardist, a drummer and 2 backing vocalists to go along with White, Bailey and Johnson.
Verdine White was a bundle of energy bounding, dancing and jumping around on stage that would put someone more than half his age to shame. Philip Bailey, known as “The Voice” proved several times throughout the evening that not only can he still hit the high notes, but also sustain them for extended periods of time. Ralph Johnson also got to show off his percussion skills as he and Philip had a little dueling percussion solo during “Evil.”
Philip Bailey took center stage and played the African thumb piano known as the kalimba, on the appropriately titled “Kalimba Story.” This interesting instrument has a sound similar to a xylophone and has been featured on at least one song on every Earth Wind and Fire album.
The middle of the set consisted of mellow R&B tunes where the musicianship and singing really took the spot light. Bailey commented that “true” Earth, Wind and Fire fans didn’t have to hear all the top 10 hits. Songs like “Keep Your Head to the Sky,” “ Can't Hide Love” and “Reasons” were well received.
The last part of their set got the fans on their feet and dancing in their seats. The 1979 smash hit, "Boogie Wonderland" segued into another disco classic "Let's Groove." The main set ended with a tune that can't help but put a smile on your face, "September."
Earth, Wind and Fire returned to encore with "In The Stone" which capped a perfect summer evening in a great new venue.
Photos and review by Greg Drugan