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    Earth, Wind & Fire
    May 29
    The Palace Theater
    Louisville, Ky.
    (Photos by: Jared Burnett)

    Earth, Wind & Fire’s show was big, loud and garish – kind of like the music they’ve been making for over four decades. And they made it clear to everyone in The Palace Theater that the years haven’t caught up to them yet.

    I’m not sure what I expect when I go see certain bands like this - bands that I perhaps foolishly or absent mindedly write off as legacy acts, but that have pedigrees and careers anyone would envy - but for some reason I find myself surprised when they put on an amazing show.  Although, let’s be honest, if you haven’t figured out how to play live after 45 years, it might be time to retire and collect the pension.

    The band was big. They were rolling twelve people deep (three drummers, three horn players, two guitarists, a keyboard player – and of course Phillip Bailey, Ralph Johnson and bassist Verdine White, who are fundamentally Earth, Wind & Fire). The giant band was flawless. There was not a stray note anywhere to be heard among these guys, which is a level of proficiency only accomplished by over four decades on the road and countless studio albums. I hate to say they looked good for their age, but at the very least they were energetic for their age (collectively the three main members are 190 years old). Things get stiff on us mere mortals, but I suppose the same isn’t true when you’re one of “the elements.”

    The music was vintage. You fit into it like an old pair of blue jeans or those slippers you know you should’ve thrown away with your Dave Matthews albums 15 years ago. The set was a string of the band’s most beloved hits and a few deeper cuts here and there. They opened big with “Boogie Wonderland,” “Sing a Song,” “Shining Star” and “Let Your Feelings Show," then they dug into some deep cuts from the back-catalog with “Serpentine Fire” and “Saturday Night.” There was also a cover of the Beatles' “Got to Get You into My Life” and another stretch of hits with “Fantasy,” “September” and “Let’s Groove” to close the set.

    While the music was fun and felt familiar, the stage show was nothing but a display of modern L.C.D. everything. They used a large L.C.D. screen as a backdrop and covered the risers for the drum set and keyboards in L.C.D. panels, creating an in-your-face, flashy, modern disco light show that Deadmau5 might've even found impressive. And when the screens displayed vintage footage of former member Maurice White (who left the band to fight Parkinson ’s disease) during “That’s the Way of the World,” it was a little emotional, a little cathartic and a little bit celebratory.

    In the end, what can you say? Going to a concert is like choosing a surgeon. It’s hard to go wrong with when you put yourself in the hands of professionals.

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    About Brent Owen

    Born and raised in Louisville, I have lived here most of my life (except during a short furlough, when I, lovelorn and naive, followed a girl to Baton Rouge). My roots are here, my family, my friends, and my life are all here. I work primarily as a free-lance writer for a few local and regional publications. I have also written two books (one a memoir, the other a novel) that barring some divine intervention, will probably never see the light of day. I find myself deeply ingrained in the local bar scene, or perhaps better said, I often indulge in the local drinking culture. I love music, movies, comedy, and really just about any other live performance art.

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