LIVE: Chicago @ SPAC, 07/18/2021
On Sunday, July 18, Saratoga Performing Arts Center welcomed guests back for “An Evening with Chicago and Their Greatest Hits.” This was the very first SPAC show without any COVID restrictions in place. Fans sat elbow to elbow for the first time in about seventeen months.
A steady rain fell throughout the night. The show was converted to a pavilion only concert when it was rescheduled from 2020. Tickets from the original date were honored. There were a handful of brave souls sitting on the lawn. To their credit, Live Nation and SPAC went out of their way to move as many of those folks inside as possible.
This was my first time back at SPAC since summer 2019. I was really impressed it the upgrades that were made to the grounds, from the new bathrooms to the new food and beverage buildings. Everything was just right. Gone were the endless lines. Everything moved quickly and efficiently.
Taking the stage a few minutes late, the classic rock legends launched into the aptly titled “Introduction” from their 1969 debut LP “Chicago Transit Authority.” Founding member Robert Lamm bounded onto the stage slinging a white keytar. Smiling from ear to ear it was clear that the members of the band were just as excited to be there as the fans.
The other two founding members that still tour with the band are Lee Loughnane on trumpet and James Pankow on trombone. They were joined by Ray Herrmann on saxophone, Keith Howland on guitar, Walfredo Reyes Jr. on drums, Brett Simons on bass, Lou Pardini on keyboards and Ray Yslas on percussion. The nine-man band operated like a finely tuned instrument, flowing from one song into the next. Simons, Pardini and Lamm traded off vocal duties as they sampled songs from their fifty-plus-year career.
They played nearly thirty songs before the end of the night. Ending with one of their most beloved songs “25 or 6 to 4.” Fans young and old were on their feet, singing along, celebrating this moment. Live music is back. Finally.