Four decades on, Chicago soul crew EWF are still touring their hugely successful style of horn-heavy, Afrocentric, space-age funk. Maurice White, the band's founder, sadly passed away this year having retired in the ’90s. But his brother Verdine White, along with Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson, still lead a riotous show full of pyramids, space-ships, levitation, and of course monster hits like 'Shining Star', 'September' and 'Boogie Wonderland'.
|Venue name:||The O2||Contact:|
|Transport:||Tube: North Greenwich|
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One of my biggest regrets was never seeing Earth Wind and Fire in the 70's or 80's when they were arguably the best and most visualy stunning live band in the world. With legendary sets from pyramids to space ships and probably the most flamboyant costumes every to grace a musical stage the guys had set a tough precedent. When I heard they were playing London I scrambled to buy tickets and secured two of them 8 rows back from the front. for their 2013 gig at the Royal Albert Hall. I was half expecting to see and hear a mere reflection and shadow of their former self. How wrong was I?. How naive and mistaken could I be? With three of the original band members leading a pack of well honed and extremely accomplished musicians (Philip Bailey on vocals, Verdine White (brother of Marice White - songwriter) on Bass and Ralp Johnson on vocals) they proceeded to tear the roof off the Albert Hall to a mixture of 50 somethings and a whole load of much younger individuals who couldnt have been around when the band was formed over 40 years ago. Playing a mixture of hits, much loved album tracks and evn a couple of new tracks from their new album Now, Tomorrow Forever the proceeded to take every person attending on a musical journey of pop laden funk and soul generating memories that I will never be able to forget. Verdine's almost crazed expressions and jerky stage presence belied the sweet bass that eminated from his guitar and underpinned the entire exhibition of musical brilliance. Philip Bailey's extraordinary musical ability delivered notes across so many octaves I simply lost count - just when you think he hit the highest not a human could make - he went higher. And whilst he could have cracked every glass in the building it was never once harsh or shrill. Ralp Johnson was more demure taking an almost fatherly role in the proceedings but visibly crying at some points when the crowd response was so huge, so overpowering that even the hardest of men would have seccumbed to the almost religious experience. The hairs on the back of my neck never relaxed, the tingles of adrenaline surging through my body never left me and the music still reverbarates through my head. Then there were the supporting musicians. A thre man horn section of trumpet, trombone and sax. We were treated to exemplary performances from these three supported by two lead guitarists a keyboard player and a drummer plus two percissionists. The stage was always alive and would have been a fantastic show even if you were stone deaf. Earth Wind and Fire I salute you. You took me back to my teenage years, put a smile on my face so wide it still hurts today and made me laugh and cry at the same time. You were are and will be the greatest live band of all time. Peace to you and best wishes to Maurice.