Tuesday, July 18, 2017|2 a.m.
. They ran out their seats the majority of the time, well-warmed by some entirely timeless soul and funk, but the people at the Pearl on Friday night seemed like they could not believe what was happening, although everybody knew the song (“Reasons”) and the singer (66-year-old Philip Bailey). We all knew his unusual falsetto could and would strike a register most singers just dream of, particularly when he’s ending up this precious 1975 R&B ballad that impossibly never charted in its day.
But that’s the thing about Earth, Wind & & Fire. You understand exactly what’s going to take place, exactly what it’s going to seem like and feel like, however it can still capture you by surprise and maybe even make you feel like you have actually never ever heard anything like it before. That held true with Bailey’s otherworldly outro to “Reasons,” and actually, quite a bit of the band’s show at the Palms’ ideal concert hall on July 14.
Opening with “Shining Star” got the crowd involved immediately, as even those in the upper deck were all set to dance. EW&F never actually took a break, scorching through hits like “Getaway,” “Serpentine Fire” and “Sing a Song” in addition to fan-only favorites like “Kalimba Story” and “Keep Your Go to the Sky,” weaving the tunes together into a nonstop groove. The audience exploded when ballad “Commitment” was cued up.
The group lost founder, bandleader and producer Maurice White last February when the music legend died at the age of 74 after fighting Parkinson’s illness. The existing EW&F trip– likewise featuring Stylish and Nile Rodgers, although that group played a different show at the Pearl on Sunday– is anchored by original members Bailey, Ralph Johnson and White’s little brother Verdine, a continually cool figure on bass guitar. The trio’s ageless talent was enhanced by vocalists/percussionists B. David Whitworth and Philip Baily Jr., both of whom offered lots of energy, and obviously the beloved horns (Gary Predisposition on sax, Bobby Burns Jr. on trumpet and Reggie Young on trombone) were constantly there to sprinkle the room with sonic color. By the time the band completed its encore of “Fantasy” and “In the Stone,” the audience was possibly pleased, however absolutely still desired more.