Earth Wind and Fire along with openers Chic featuring Nile Rodgers made a stop at the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night as a part of their “2054 Tour.” The unique sounding name is referencing the fact that both bands wanted to bring the Studio 54 vibe into the 2000s. For a few hours in Cleveland, The Q turned into that iconic New York club as both bands played the soundtrack from that era.
Newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Nile Rodgers took the stage first and set the tone for the evening. Before playing a note, he asked the audience if they were ready to party. The 9000 people in the area gave a warm response and Rodgers then said “Then why are you sitting down? Get up and dance!”
With that, he and his tight 8 piece band launched into Chic’s number one dance hit “Everybody Dance” and never slowed down for the next sixty minutes.
Rodgers noted that he has “been blessed” to be able to write, play on or produce so many hit songs throughout his career. The band decided to play a medley of some of those songs which included Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down,” Will Smith’s “Gittin’ Jiggy Wit It,” “He’s The Greatest Dancer” by Sister Sledge along with their other number one hit “We Are Family.”
Nile also said that looking back in his career, he realized that he has played in Cleveland more than any other city. He also mentioned that six and a half years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors told him things looked grim and that he “had to get my affairs in order.”
After hearing that news, he said he decided to “write more songs than ever before, record more songs than ever before and play more shows than ever before.” Now, six and a half years later he said “I’m cancer free and playing in Cleveland!”
He and the band then tore into the 2013 Record of the Year “Get Lucky” that he co-wrote and played guitar on with Daft Punk.
Finishing up an incredible set of pop music mastery was David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Chic’s own number one songs “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” On the latter, the stage was literally turned into a disco where several members of the audience were invited up to boogie with the band.
Then, I witnessed something I had never seen before. As the roadies were tearing down the set, Nile stayed on the stage shaking everyone’s hand in the first few rows and taking selfies. He is a true class act and proved why he was more than deserving for his Rock Hall induction.
Not to be outdone, another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Earth Wind and Fire took the stage with their own number one hit “Shining Star.”
Although leader and founding member, Maurice White passed away last year, his memory and musical legacy is being kept alive by three long standing and Rock Hall inductees Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson.
The band kept that Studio 54 vibe going by playing more upbeat songs in the first part of their set like “Sing A Song,” “On Your Face” and “Serpentine Fire.’
The middle section of the show was dedicated to their slow jams. “Can’t Hide Love,” “Devotion,” “Way of the World” and “After The Love Has Gone” had many couples slow dancing in the aisles.
“Reasons” showcased Philip Bailey’s high falsetto. The sixty-six year old’s voice is in fine form and the man can still hit and sustain those notes.
Earth Wind and Fire has always had several band members on stage and the 2017 version of the band is no different. The excellent musicians consisted of a three man horn section, two guitarists, a drummer, a keyboardists, two singers who also played percussion, White on bass, and Johnson and Bailey on vocals and percussion.
The final third of the show got everybody up out of their seats and dancing. “September” started off the trifecta of hits that also included “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s Groove.”
After a brief exit, the band returned to play “Fantasy” and “In A Stone.”
This was the feel good concert of the year. From start to finish, both artists showcased their great songs and musicianship while leaving everyone with a huge smile on their face.