Written by Emilee Lindner • Photography by Jessica Pohl, Live Nation • May 25, 2017
You know Earth, Wind & Fire -- the band that's been going for nearly 45 years that just can't stop spreading good vibes. The band was founded with a very psychedelic funk sound, and since then, they've gone on to wrap jazz, disco, rock, pop, salsa and so much more into their essence, making EWF one of the most unique bands in music history. Look to the enthusiastic horn section, look to Phillip Bailey's falsetto, look to the layers of percussion -- they're all responsible for the cauldron of sonic stew that's been keeping fans satiated for decades.
Earth, Wind & Fire will be playing The Classic in July, along with Steely Dan, Journey, The Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. So make sure you get tickets the show -- there's one in both Los Angeles and New York -- if not to see EWF, but to get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of seeing six legendary bands over one weekend. Earth, Wind & Fire will surely be dishing out the peace and love.
To give you a taste of what they’ll be bringing to The Classic, here are five times Earth, Wind & Fire has explored different genres in their music.
Earth, Wind & Fire dig deep on this live rendition of their classic “After the Love Has Gone.” The group loosens up one of their saddest songs with a slightly faster tempo, but it’s still an emotional rollercoaster -- from the aching piano intro to the crescendo of the key change. (And all of this before the sax solo even hits!) “After the Love Has Gone” is soul at its best. It takes heartbreak and wraps it in groove until you can’t feel the pain. But the real magic of this version (and live music in general) is the energy from the crowd.
“Let’s Groove” is one of Earth, Wind & Fire’s biggest hits -- and for good reason. The song effortlessly blends together pop, disco and funk elements. When the song was released in 1981, disco music was taking a hit (it wasn’t ~cool~ to like disco, according to the up-and-comers). Nevertheless, EWF put out “Let’s Groove,” defining what would become post-disco. Onstage, the track has an incredible pop hook and irresistible verses. Seriously, try not to sing along to that falsetto as you’re bobbing along in the crowd.
There’s something weird that happens to your hips when you see Earth, Wind & Fire perform 1975’s “Shining Star” live. The guitar takes them over and has you gyrating like you've never known. Funk is all about the bass line and sax, and not only does EWF have that, but they threw in some trumpet to make it even hotter. Their vocal harmonies are so tight that it feels like there’s some kind of electronics involved. But that’s just the band! In the studio version of the track, the music cuts out to put those harmonies on a cappella display. It’s no wonder this track won a Grammy way back when -- those dudes know how to party.
A little bit of disco makes its way into “In The Stone with understated synths and vocals that melt together to give off a real ‘70s feel. There’s no mirror ball present, but you can do that Saturday Night Fever dance, if you really feel like it. If anything, just let the horn section wash over you and leave you completely stunned by the energy that’s swelling from the band.
Sure, 1979’s “Boogie Wonderland” is all disco. But since disco pulls elements of salsa into its genre, they end up emphasizing the dance in this set. Halfway through the song, the piano dives into a chaotic salsa riff, scattering keys all over the disco track. The bass goes wild and the bongos pound out a ridiculous rhythm. Of course, there’s no sense in describing the greatness that is EWF -- you just have to experience it for yourself. Ticket info is available at TheClassic.com.
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