Live Review : EARTH WIND & FIRE at Asia Expo, Hong Kong – 24 September 2016

Review and photos by Pete Coates
EARTH WIND & FIRE at Asia Expo, Hong Kong - 24 September 2016 Photographer: Peter Coates

This was the first visit to Hong Kong ever by the any incarnation of Earth Wind & Fire in their 47 year history, made all the more poignant coming only a few months after the death of founding member Maurice White in February this year.

The three core members of the current band, Philip Bailey (vocals and percussion), Verdine White (bass guitar) and Ralph Johnson (vocals and percussion) have all been in the band since 1972, and they now form the focal point of the performance of the band, which features two hours of soul, disco and pop classics, covering the entire repertoire. The band has toured Asia with the full 12-piece unit – including the energetic triple horn section, John Paris on the drums, Philip Bailey Jr on vocals and percussion, the twin guitars of Morris O’Connor (lead guitar) and Serg Dimitrijevic (rhythm guitar) and Myron McKinley on keyboards.

The set is a mix of some great jazz-funk and soul, with Philip Bailey absolutely magnificent taking the lead vocal role, mixed up with the long list of great EWF hits, such as “Boogie Wonderland”, “Shining Star”, “Saturday Nite”, “Devotion”, and the great closing barrage of “Got to Get you into my Life”, “September” and “Let’s Groove”, before the encores of the epic “Fantasy” and “In the Stone” brought the show to a climax.

Verdine White on the bass is a class act – high energy in every way, especially with the gold sequinned flares, and an excellent jazz-funk bass player to boot; Ralph Johnson provides much of the harmony vocals behind Bailey, and is a dab hand on the various pieces of latin percussion scattered around the stage. Both the guitarists get the chance to shine with some rock-star riffs underpinning some of the raunchier songs, and the multi-talented horn section shining on many of the songs.

The crowd of more than 3,000 locals who had travelled out past the airport to the Asia Expo complex for the show were enthusiastic and excited from the opening song, and there was plenty of singing and dancing in the aisles as the hits kept coming – and provided appreciative applause for the solos spots from Verdine on bass, and Bailey on the kalomba (thumb harp), as well as on the impressive vocals he displayed throughout.

It is always a delight to see excellent musicians do their thing, and when they perform with such style and in the sheer joy of the music, it is a real privilege.

Heart & Soul 2 Home

Review and photos by Pete Coates

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EARTH WIND & FIRE at Asia Expo, Hong Kong - 24 September 2016 Photographer: Peter Coates

Promoter – PLAYERONE
PR – The Fame Factory