Concerts, Popular Music

2011 Concert Season: Chicago

Chicago at Trib Total Media Amphitheater in Station Square
Pittsburgh, PA – May 24, 2011

I have really slacked off on my concert posts! Here’s hoping I can catch up and get back into the swing of things…

Watching the dark clouds loom over Pittsburgh from my office windows, I was pretty nervous about the spending the evening of May 24 exposed to the elements down at the Trib Total Media Amphitheater.  Fortunately, the clouds dispersed, leaving me to enjoy a gorgeous evening at the Station Square riverfront.

ChicagoTechnically, it wasn’t summer yet, but it sure felt like it, with the sticky Pittsburgh weather and the hot sounds of Chicago – that “rock and roll band with horns”-  entertaining us that evening.   Not even the freight trains speeding past the amphitheater could drown out the band’s classic hits as they heated up the the stage.

As the evening wore on, the weather eventually cooled down, but Chicago’s nine-member group never did, strutting and bouncing around the stage with their exuberant music.  All original members of the brass and woodwind section were out in full force – Lee Loughnane on trumpet, Walter Parazaider on sax and flute and Jimmy Pankow, the self-described “pelvis of the brass section,” on trombone.

When I hear Chicago’s music – classic hits such as “Beginnings,” “I’m a Man,” “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” –  I immediately picture myself driving down highway on a bright summer day, with windows open and music blasting, miles behind me and still many more miles to go.  The concert was a good way to welcome my impending summer chock full of fun plans.

The set list ranged from their earlier recognizable hits (“Saturday in the Park,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is?”) to pop-infused love ballads from the Peter Cetera era, (“Baby What a Big Surprise,” “If You Leave Me Now”).  Bassist Jason Scheff nailed Cetera’s vocal range with ease.  I generally prefer the 70’s era in their catalog, but the live versions of these 80’s ballads really sounded fantastic live – not a bit cheesy.

The jubilant audience was on their feet and dancing during the final song – “25 or 6 to 4,”  It felt like we were all waiting for that jam to really let loose and celebrate.

The one song I was anticipating was “Beginnings” – my favorite Chicago song.   Taking a break from the keyboard, founding member Robert Lamm moved to center stage with acoustic guitar in hand, belting out the track from Chicago’s first album.  He voice was as deep, soulful and robust as ever.  These lyrics pretty much encapsulate how I feel about many experiences in my life, whether it’s when I have a crush, when my writing makes an impact on one of my readers, or when I’m simply enjoying a beautifully crafted piece of live music: “Only the beginning, of what I want to feel forever…”

Set List

1. Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon
2. Make Me Smile
3. So Much to Say, So Much to Give
4. Anxiety’s Moment
5. West Virginia Fantasies
6. Colour My World
7. To Be Free
8. Now More Than Ever
9. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
10. Dialogue (Part I & II)
11. Alive Again
12. Call on Me
13. Old Days
14. Along Comes a Woman
15. If You Leave Me Now
16. Wake Up Sunshine
17. (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long
18. Baby What a Big Surprise
19. Hard Habit to Break
20. You’re the Inspiration
21. Beginnings
22. I’m a Man
23. Just You ‘n Me
24. Saturday in the Park
25. Hard to Say I’m Sorry
26. Feelin’ Stronger Every Day
27. Free
28. 25 or 6 to 4


Here’s a YouTube video of “Saturday in the Park.”


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