Earth, Wind & Fire lost their founder and bandleader Maurice White earlier this year. He may not have been as publicly mourned as Bowie and Prince but his group are clearly still adored, judging by the ecstatic reaction at this packed and sweaty celebration.
Earth, Wind & Fire | O2 Academy, Glasgow | Rating ****
White had not toured with the band for years, preferring to orchestrate from base, but his brother Verdine White is still out there, grooving like it’s 1977. White is a striking funk dandy, a throwback to the days when Earth, Wind & Fire took the rainbow funk template of Sly Stone and George Clinton and fashioned a show which could sit comfortably in the commercial disco age yet also retain some conceptual theatricality.
The showmanship is still there to a degree, thanks to the musical flair of all involved, but the delivery is more straightforward. White and the other surviving original members, Ralph Johnson and the ageless Philip Bailey, have been joined by the next generation, including Bailey’s son, making this a family affair of sweet ensemble singing, sassy brass, blistering blues and unfettered jazz funk with Latino and Afrofunk flavours, all packed into a trim 90-minute set which was bookended by their biggest hits. Boogie Wonderland was their opening manifesto and there was a euphoric closing run, including the lush ballad After the Love Has Gone, their funky reworking of The Beatles’ Got To Get You Into My Life and their sci-fi hymn Fantasy showing off Bailey’s sublime falsetto to its best advantage.