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AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
Written By: Gary Crouthamel
*Click images below to view larger versions.
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
AN EVENING WITH CHICAGO The Freeman Stage at Bayside
Selbyville, Delaware
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
 
        Another gorgeous and cloudless night for a concert at The Freeman Stage. As I was walking up to the entrance passing the stage, I noticed three semi trailers (for their equipment) and four tour buses (for the band and roadies). I have never noticed this at any other concert I have been to up there so I was just thinking, this should be good. I was told by management that this was the most people the Freeman Stage had ever had in their 10-year history. The chairs were lined up all the way to the back of the lawn at the concession stand, a set-up I had never seen before. As I looked through and around the crowd, I was just wondering if Gull Creek in Berlin issued free one-day road trip passes. Think about it a minute people. If no one has been to the Freeman Stage this year, let me tell you that they have built a brand new massive stage to accommodate bigger bands now. Without the new stage, Chicago would never have fit on that little wooden shed they had in the past. Tonight the stage was set up with the entire back of it covered with a backdrop with the band’s logo Chicago on it. All pianos and drum and percussion equipment were up on a riser that throughout the night would light up in various colors and patterns while all the guitarists and horn section were on the stage with plenty of room to roam; and man did they do a good job of that. The entire set lighting was phenomenal!
        Chicago, out celebrating their 50 years in music, took the stage and as always opened with "Questions 67 & 68" and "Dialogue (Part 1 & 11)." Another great thing with this band is that they rotate vocal duties to almost everyone in the band throughout the night. Songs next up were "Alive Again", "Wake Up Sunshine. Now founding member Robert Lamm introduces Lou Pardini on keyboards to sing the next song, "Call on Me." The newest member of Chicago, Jeff Coffey, on bass guitar, who joined the band in 2016, gets his turn on vocals with "I've Been Searchin' So Long," and I’ve got to admit, he fits right in having that voice for Chicago songs. After the instrumental "Mongonucleosis," Coffey and guitarist Keith Howland grab their acoustic guitars and sat for "If You Leave Me Now." Lamm asks the crowd, "so far, so good?" to a rousing applause and leads into "Another Rainy Day in New York City" with Lamm on vocals. Now Pardini starts to play "Look Away" by himself before being joined by Howland on acoustic, and by songs end the entire band join in. Lamm now saying,” we’ve been at this now for 50 years and thanks to people like you, we can continue to do it and we love you.” The band then goes on a rampage and closes out their first set with "Make Me Smile," "So Much to Say,” “So Much to Give," "Anxiety's Moment," "West Virginia Fantasies," "Color My World," "To Be Free" and "Now More Than Ever."
        As the house lights go up, it’s announces that Chicago will return in 15 minutes, and most people have already flocked to the bathrooms and concession stands. Good break for the Gull Creek crowd to get up and stretch out. Most are already back to their seats as the announcement comes that Chicago will take the stage in five minutes.
        The band comes back out and opens with "Old Days" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?' with a lot of people singing along as has happened through the show. Most I see walking by are singing almost every song. Coffey gets another vocal call on "Bad Habit to Break" and "You're The Inspiration". Lamm now takes some time to introduce the band. You know Howland, Pardini and Coffey; now he introduces on percussion Walfredo Reyes Jr., on saxophone, Ray Herman and on drums Tris Imboden. Let me just say this: I have never seen a drummer play and smile as much as this guy does, he never stops. Now, last but not least, he introduces the other two founding members, Lee Loughnane on trumpet and James Pankow on Trombone. Remember in the beginning I mentioned all that room on stage in which to roam, well this horn section uses every bit of that stage to roam as they did all night long. As for Lamm himself, he says, “the only thing I can tell you is I am Robert Lamm.” And with that said, he comes down from his keyboards on the riser to the stage and grabs an acoustic guitar for the song "Beginnings." Next is always a second set cover song, the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man," where half way through it, the entire band exits the stage except for Reyes Jr. and Imboden. These two engage in a drum / percussion duel that just is one of the best you will ever see. After about 10 minutes the band comes back to finish the song to a standing ovation from the crowd. Then "Street Player" leads into "Just You 'n' Me" with Herman playing a nice flute to the song. With  I'm not sure what brought this on, but as the band played  "Hard to Say I'm Sorry / Get Away," I noticed that everyone in the house was standing on their feet waving their lit cell phones, which added some nice ambiance to the outdoor evening. To end their second set, they closed with "Saturday in the Park" and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" before waving and bowing to the crowd as they exited the stage.
        After a short break during which the stage backdrop changed to an American Flag covering the Chicago one, they returned with Lamm saying, "Hello Delaware, make some noise!" Their encore included "Free" and "25 or 6 to 4" which is how this band always ends their night. This wrapped up the best show I have ever seen at the Freeman Stage. You just don't get this energy and power out of a lot of bands these days so I gave them a big two thumbs up and can’t wait to catch them again and hopefully soon. They are out on the road doing a co-headlining bill with the Doobie Brothers, but they have been by our way so when they come near again, try your best to catch them; it’s well worth it - an awesome show
        Check all their info at -  Chicago - The Band
 – Gary Crouthamel, Concert Photojournalist
 
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