Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The EARTH, WIND & FIRE EXPERIENCE (Half a Concert Review)

“Fuck, I was conned. this isnt earth wind & fire. its anothr band calld d AL MCKAY ALL STARS, d concert is just billd as EARTH, WIND & FIRE “EXPERIENCE”, not LIVE. Phil bailey is NOT in da house. It’s a goddamn tribute band.”

The above is the ignorant text message I sent to two officemates two unknown songs into last night’s concert. Complete with the idiotic shortcuts often used in text messaging.

Okay, Heaven forgive the unenlightened.

One of my said officemates replied, telling me that some of the members of the AL MCKAY ALL STARS were former band members of Earth Wind & Fire. “Maybe they’re good,” she said. I thought, “Fine. Besides, it would seem rude to leave so early.” So I kept my ass put and told the wifey that we can leave for our weekly Baclaran visit in around twenty minutes. She couldn’t care less about no aging r&b funk band, original or not, so she was glad. To add to my conviction regarding leaving early, the wifey reported Marge (our unborn daughter) was kicking around in her tummy, probably due to the concert noise.

Then three unknown songs in, they streamed in “After the Love is Gone.” And one of the three front men kicks the song off valiantly. But Maurice White he ain’t. The harmonies on the choruses were okay, but while I wasn’t expecting to catch Maurice White’s baritone since he has reportedly retired from touring due to Parkinson’s, I must admit that the trademark timber of his voice is missed in this song. But hey, the singer was very professional and in tune tonight. Ho-hum…

Then they segueway into “Reasons”… ha… now this should be interesting… they have a Philip Bailey clone with dreadlocks, who started off a bit pensively, then did his thing… not too shabby at all. They got into that now-famous sax-vs.-Bailey style duel/duet, and I must admit, though he ain’t as smooth as Mr. Bailey himself, this Bailey clone can still hit ‘em high. Interestingly enough, I caught a strain of his full voice hitting a high note, and he actually sounded even better. He may be doing himself a disservice by not utilizing other aspects of his vocal talent. I was NOT disappointed. And the sax-player was mean, too…

Then they got into “Fantasy,” another EWF trademark… damn good. The crowd was on its feet, hopping the night away.

Sadly, Marge was really complaining… and I had to comply… sniff sniff…

Bottom line: GOOD BAND, GOOD SHOW. And Al McKay’s pedigree gives his bunch the gravitas to back up the showmanship.
The choreography of the three front guys was a bit corny. But it’s showbiz, and people came to hear their sound, not to see them dance anyways. So they have an excuse to dance stupid.

Would I pay to see them again? To be honest, yeah… why not…? I walked out of there wondering who Mr. Al McKay and what his significance was. Sufficient googling rendered the fact that Mr. McKay was a guitarist during the classic line up of Earth Wind & Fire. Some sites say that one of the guys on his All-Star line up is a brother of the great Maurice White. And the Whites are to EWF what the Porcaros are to TOTO. So fine, far as most people are concerned, these guys are as close to EWF as most people can get. And yes, if they're cashing in on the EWF name, dammit, these guys play with the right to it.

Many thanks to the Manila Bulletin for the complimentary tickets!

Here’s a sample of their sound…

No comments: