The legendary “rock band with horns” performed for almost three hours at the MGM National Harbor
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Friday, October 9, the ten touring members of iconic rock band Chicago took the stage at MGM National Harbor in Forest Heights, Md. What followed was an epic evening of 28 songs and three hours of mastering the genre.
Five decades ago, Chicago saw the potential of wind instruments to revolutionize rock and roll. The catalog they designed from there successfully blended jazz, R&B and rock to create a sound of their own. Huey Lewis’s of the world owe Chicago their thanks for paving the way for the acceptance of brass in the rock and roll world.
The 10-person group on this tour includes original members Lee Loughnane (who recently appeared on The Music Universe Podcast), Robert Lamm and James Pankow. They are joined by Keith Howland, Lou Pardini, Walfredo Reyes, Jr, Ray Hermann, Brett Simmons, Ray Yslas and new singer Neil Parnell – whom he joined in 2018.
The epic 28 song concert consisted of two sets. Primary vocal responsibilities are exchanged between original member Lamm, Pardini and new tenor Donell. Pardini received a standing ovation with his thought-provoking voice on “Look Away”. Donell’s four-octave scale shone on several songs. Lamm often sang from his keyboard perched atop the risers of the video screen.
Often, the singers sang out of the spotlight so that the real stars of the show could shine with their respective bursts: the brass. Loughnane, Hermann and Pankow assaulted the crowd as their harmonious horns provided the backbone of the setlist.
All the fan favorites are present on this lap. It’s clear that Chicago is making up for lost time, having been out for 18 months like all of the other legacy bands who make their living mostly off touring. They saved their hardest stone for late in the evening. “I’m a Man” saw most of the front rows take the stage. And of course, “25 or 6 to 4” got everyone standing singing.
Throughout the show, a large LED backdrop displayed a myriad of versions of the Chicago logos. For example, during “Free”, the iconic typeface was incorporated into a waving American flag. They also used the wall to display images of Chicago landmarks (i.e. the city) and memorabilia from the legendary career of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.
The group is always at the top of its game. And their music has spoken to generations, as evidenced by their recently released live music ensemble featuring multiple shows. Seeing these legends is a must for any true fan of true rock music.
This article is part of a new series called “Reviews on the Road”. TMU travels to report on the return of live music across the country. We are proud to document this important period in entertainment history. Check out our Podcast for more detailed discussions on this topic, and stay tuned for more gigs in more states. Please email [email protected] with the locations you think we should check out.