Well these pictures have been a long time coming. They are from a Chicago concert I saw back in February, more than four months ago, at the Fred Kavli Theater in Thousand Oaks, CA. I had not planned to see the band live again after their 50th Anniversary show at the Whisky a Go Go last year, and then on February 18 I found myself at this show in an excellent seat due to a gift from a friend, and my reactions to the performance provoked me to finally sit down and write an epic – and I mean hugely epic – story about why it’s not likely I will see them live again. I laboured over the story for months. Months. And sought feedback from friends. And revised it numerous times. And each time I was about to hit Publish, I refrained. And today I decided that I would just put that story – which reviewed the show, put forward opinions on the numerous line-up shifts in the band since the beginning of this year that include a new lead singer, included a critique of the band playing its second album in its not quite entirety, and then as justification for my viewpoint, detailed my 45-year relationship, personal and professional, with Chicago and some reflections on where that stands now and why – on indefinite hold.
Chicago played here in LA ten days ago, their annual appearance at The Forum on a double-header (it had been the Greek Theater for years but The Forum is much bigger, so it’s nice that the band can draw such a big crowd), with the other band on the bill being REO Speedwagon, whom I don’t need to see as I saw them with Chicago just a few years ago and I’m not a fan. While that show was going on, I watched some of the videos that were being streamed and knew that my feelings hadn’t changed and was relieved, as until recently I could not conceive of being close to a Chicago show and not going.
I will say that I loved Chicago for a long, long time and that I will always be an ardent advocate of their early recorded work right through until, and even a couple of albums after, the death of Terry Kath. I am proud and privileged to have conducted some of the most in-depth interviews with the two original key songwriters of the band, and to have spent time with all of the members at various times in various places since I was a cute 16-year old meeting them for the first time back in Sydney. I will also say that at the many (more than I can count) Chicago concerts I have been to, they have always put on an energetic show with stellar musicianship. I have loved photographing them in recent years particularly, and Jimmy Pankow on trombone is one of my favourite subjects to photograph in concert – ever. But I am pretty sure these will be the last photos I take of them. And not the last time I will write about them. And that’s all for now.