The double bill of Chicago and Hall & Oates at the Universal Amphitheater Wednesday was far more than an exercise in nostalgia: It provided unambiguous proof that great songs will always find an audience. But that seems to be a tenet that most radio programmers today -- in their quest to find the newest and hottest that will appeal to teenagers -- have seemingly forgotten, as both bands routinely face resistance in getting their new songs played.

The double bill of Chicago and Hall & Oates at the Universal Amphitheater Wednesday was far more than an exercise in nostalgia: It provided unambiguous proof that great songs will always find an audience.

But that seems to be a tenet that most radio programmers today — in their quest to find the newest and hottest that will appeal to teenagers — have seemingly forgotten, as both bands routinely face resistance in getting their new songs played.

The wide demographic during the first night of a two-night stand at the hilltop venue was a programmer’s dream: The dockers crowd rocking alongside the oversized pant, skate-wear contingent, with both factions finding much to like in each perf.

Best Buy, which is sponsoring the roadshow should also be pleased with the demos. It’s getting an active record buying audience in the skate-wear set, and with the older crowd, buyers of expensive home electronics and who fondly remember Chicago’s music when it was routinely played on Top-40 radio. The roadshow is also doing solid box office at each stop.

The tour is also noteworthy because it is one of the first SFX Entertainment, the New York-based firm that has been driving a consolidation in the concert industry by acquiring the industry’s key promoters, has decided to hang its hat on.

Chicago’s flawlessly executed, non-stop over 90-minute set touched on almost every career nugget, as well as “All Roads Lead To You,” a new track off “Heart of Chicago II,” their second Reprise Records best-of set in as many years. (The first set sold more than 500,000 copies).

Led by the distinctive vocals of Bill Champlin, Robert Lamm and Jason Scheff, while supplemented by the stellar brass work of the Pankow/Parazaider/Loughnane triumvirate, tunes such as the Pankow penned “Just You ‘N’ Me” and “Colour My World” — the latter brought home with Parazaider’s fine flute work — or the Lamm scribbled “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” sounded as potent as the day they debuted more than 25 years ago.

And with the fragmentation of today’s radio, the songs were remarkably timely: Chicago’s rock-pop-jazz concoctions can easily fit in among offerings from such current charttoppers as “Zoot Suit Riot” from Universal Records’ Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

Hall & Oates debuted tracks from their latest, “Marigold Sky,” which is their first post-major label (RCA Records) release and debut on their co-owned BMG Distributed Push Records label.

The album is filled with well-written R&B-influenced tunes like “Want To” and ballads such as “Throw The Roses Away” which are evocative of “Sarah Smile,” the duo’s biggest hit. Both new songs were set highlights.

Hall’s vocals were in top form as he delivered the duo’s trademarked “blue eyed soul” during a spirited, hour-long set.

Chicago; Hall & Oates

Universal Amphitheater; 6,287 capacity; $63 top

Production

Reviewed July 22, 1998.

Cast

Bands: Chicago: Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, Jimmie Pankow, Walt Parazaider, Bill Champlin, Jason Scheff, Tris Imboden, Keith Howland. Hall & Oates: Daryl Hall, John Oates, T-Bone Wolk, Charlie DeChant, Paul Pesco, Bobby Mayo, Michael Braun.
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