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Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018|2 a.m.
Chicago is back in Las Vegas for an extended run of concerts and couldn’t be happier about it. Songwriter, keyboard gamer and singer Robert Lamm told me the band has been so ecstatic about its mini-residency at the Venetian, which kicked off Wednesday, that the group members gatheringed to plan an unique and comprehensive setlist.
” Last year, our second album– the one with “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World” and “25 or 6 to 4″– was completely remixed and remastered by Warner [Music Group] by the distinguished Steve Wilson and we had no idea this was being done,” Lamm states. “As an outcome, the album was in the running for the Grammy album hall of popularity. So we chose to take a look at that double album, about 75 minutes of music, and we practiced it thoroughly last fall and began to play it in its totality as an experiment.”
The eponymous album from 1970, in some cases described as “Chicago II,” will be the first half of a long program at the Vegas gigs, and Lamm says the fans have been eating it up until now. “Most of these tunes, we have not bet 45 years or something like that, so uncovering them for ourselves is actually a journey, and having the audience react in such a positive way is another trip.”
Among 4 founding members of the famous pop-rock clothing still with the band, Lamm wrote the hard-charging “25 or 6 to 4,” as well as a number of Chicago’s greatest hits like “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Saturday in the Park.” He was acknowledged for his efforts in 2015 when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Popularity, a quite extraordinary mix with Chicago’s induction into the Rock & & Roll Hall of Popularity in 2016.
” They were two really different phenomenons for me,” Lamm states. “I enjoyed that the band finally made it and that was a lot of fun with our contemporaries with us and in the audience. But I consider myself mainly a songwriter and secondarily a performer, so that [Songwriters Hall of Popularity] was really an honor. If you take a look at that list, those are individuals that taught me a lot and I seem like I do not belong, but I’m very delighted to accept it since writing is something I have actually never stopped doing, reaching into the unknown to see exactly what else I could learn about music.”
Chicago will be exploring with REO Speedwagon this summer and is refining a brand-new lineup in Vegas: Walfredo Reyes Jr. has actually moved into the drummer’s chair with his bro Daniel picking up other percussion tasks; Brett Simons, formerly of the Zac Brown Band, is on bass; and Canadian singer Neil Donell takes vocal tasks. They join horn area Lee Loughnane, Walt Parazaider, Ray Herrmann and James Pankow; Keith Howland on guitar; and Lou Pardini and Lamm on keyboards. “It’s crazy how the lineup changes and the band improves,” Lamm says. “I hope the audience digs these people as much as we do, due to the fact that we’re pretty fussy.”
Chicago carries out at 8 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 14, 16, 17, 21, 23 and 24 at the Venetian Theatre (3355 Las Vegas Blvd., 702-414-9000). One dollar from every ticket offered to these shows will benefit the Las Vegas Victims Fund. Find more info at venetian.com.