Every summer, Ravinia Festival in Highland Park hosts some of the best shows in Chicagoland with its own set of fans, families and fantastic acts. Returning once more to their founding region, the musical legends of Earth, Wind and Fire took the stage at Ravinia to the delight of thousands of Chicagoans.
On the Fourth of July weekend, three of the original Earth, Wind and Fire members, Philip Bailey, the ever-eccentric Verdine White and Ralph Johnson, along with a group of seasoned musicians and even Philip Bailey Jr., a second generation Earth, Wind and Fire member, brought the funk.
While many of these faces are familiar to true EWF fans, there have been many more talented members along the way since the group’s origination in the 1970s. Few other musical acts in the world have the history of Earth, Wind and Fire or the talent and fearlessness of these dazzling entertainers.
The night started just after 8:15 p.m. with what Bailey Sr. promised to be 72 minutes of love. Right off the bat, the band started with groovy vibrations, bringing everyone in the arena and the thousands of fans placed throughout the festival lawns back to the funkiest ages of EWF’s 1970s origins. The founding three took front and center upon entering the stage, in colors of red, black, silver and white. Verdine White outshined everyone with wide bell-bottom trousers of shiny silver and long hair like Bailey. The members had a commanding presence that was humbled by the love they received from the audience, as if the show was about the music more than stardom.
Throughout the night, the audience was treated to classic hits such as “Shining Star” and “September,” among many others. While not every tune had the audience on their feet, there’s no mistaking that Bailey’s voice is as good as it ever was, as he hit the high notes with unwavered mastery. He continues to mimick his favorite female vocalists with perfection and ease. Each member and section of the band was highlighted throughout the show, and unique instruments you aren’t likely to see at your typical rock concert were in abundance, enchanting the melodies with rhythmic impulse.
What made this evening special was not only the atmosphere of America’s Independence Day, but the variety of EWF fans. No matter what the age, there’s something for everyone and something new to experience every time this group of musicians hits the stage. From rock and jazz to electronic and psychedelic, EWF can do it all, and has been doing it best for more than 40 years. It’s hard to place their music into one style, but it can be best categorized as multi-genre thanks to the wide variation of musical instruments and adaptations over the years. With such a unique sound spanning decades and generations, those changes have quantified excellence and gentrified Earth, Wind and Fire members into music gods.
While these musicians first broke ground decades ago, the rhythm they struck at Ravinia Festival still has repercussions today throughout the world. Some of the members have changed, but the music remains, and it’s sure to make you bob your head and grab the waist of your sweetheart.
Earth, Wind and Fire remains active and on tour. Check out their website for more information about the legendary crew.
To find out more about upcoming events and headliner concerts at Ravinia Festival, check out their website this summer. Ravinia offers music concerts and other show types throughout the summer season, with both lawn and pavillion seats.