13 July 2021 (gig)
15 July 2021
After an inactive summer of 2020, live music finally returned to the stage of the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts with classic rock icons, Chicago, who kicked off the Center's 2021 concert series on July 13, 2021.
Chicago was scheduled to tour in 2020 with Rick Springfield. However, due to scheduling conflicts, he was unavailable to join the band's jaunt this year.
The last time Chicago was at this venue (in 2018), they played their classic album, "Chicago ll," in its entirety to the very fortunate audience in attendance. This tour is more of a concentration on Chicago's vast collection of classic songs and is a journey of their greatest hits, with a couple of deeper cuts for the diehards.
Chicago's long-fluctuating lineup still includes original members Robert Lamm (lead vocals/keyboards), James Pankow (trombonist), and Lee Loughnane (trumpeter), who have played on every note ever created during the group's 52-year existence.
The ensemble's repertoire concentrated primarily on their '70s heyday, and the nearly two-and-a-half hour celebration began with the standard opener, "Introduction" and "Questions 67 & 68." Chicago then launched an epic version of "Dialogue (Parts l and ll)," a funky protest song that illustrates a conversation between two students; a politically savvy one and a passive party-loving type. Originally a duet between founding members Terry Kath and Peter Cetera, the vocals were handled masterfully by Lou Pardini (keyboardist) and Neil Donnell (lead vocals/guitarist) and was a major highlight of the first set.
Donnell also shined on a stripped-down take of "If You Leave Me Now" (the group's first number-one single). Lamm had a very touching moment with the rarity, "Wake Up Sunshine," (a sweet song about his daughter), and Pardini lit the crowd up with an emotional interpretation of 1989's smash, "Look Away."
After a quick intermission, the second set began with "Old Days" and a feisty "Alive Again," the band's first single after the passing of Kath in 1978. While the song is a tribute to Kath, it takes on an additional meaning of rebirth in the (nearly) post-pandemic world.
A pair of mid-eighties ballads, "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration," led into an epic pairing of "Beginnings" and "Colour My World." Drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. and percussionist Ramon "Ray" Yslas, both shined during an extended drum solo on "I'm A Man" (the Spencer Davis Band classic).
1979's "Street Player" was accentuated by video of vintage images of the gangster heyday of the city of Chicago. Visions of infamous Windy City gangsters as Tony Spilotro and Al Capone left no doubt as to the inspiration for the singular album cut.
Following 1982's monstrous hit, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away," Lamm perfectly executed the glorious "Saturday in the Park."
The second set then ended with a shortened-down "Feelin' Stronger Every Day."
After a two-song encore, ("Free" and a dynamic "25 or 6 to 4"), the show concluded and left the Massachusetts crowd elated with the great vibes Chicago had created, making them the perfect band to reintroduce the Xfinity Center back to live concerts.