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Chicago Is On Fire at Grand Ole Opry Gathering in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Chicago rolled into the Grand Ole Opry House on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 for a much anticipated concert in front of a near capacity crowd in Nashville, Tennessee. Here at Team MCN we are longtime fans of the legendary band but this was our first time catching them live. So, we prepared by watching a few recent high-profile documentaries about the truly great group.

Chicago triumphed at the Grand Ole Opry in Tennessee.

"I've always thought of Chicago in terms of a family, rather than eras. You know, in the span of 40 or 50 years there are going to be changes and I don't care if it's a family or a band, there are going to be changes," said Chicago founding member Robert Lamm at the beginning the CNN aired and band produced 2017 film Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago before continuing, "the realization becomes, we're all replaceable. We're all replaceable."

From the 2016 production titled Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience we learned that the ground-breaking band maintained a stable line-up for over a decade from their 1967 forming until the untimely and accidental death in 1978 of the heart and soul of the operation - their founding guitar player, singer and songwriter Terry Kath who drew comparisons to and praise from one Jimi Hendrix back in the day when the act thrived on presenting a jazz fusion jam band style of music before the era of their radio hits took over.

Robert Lamm returned to the stage after missing the gig in Chattanooga.

From that point in their history until the present Chicago would begin to be characterized by a revolving door nature that has seen many players come and go as if they were passing through the famed Sears Tower on Wacker Drive. But, like the city that gives the group its name that has survived infernos and regular gale force gusts courtesy of Lake Michigan the band has been resilient and have repeatedly overcome their hardships through the years. The modern incarnation still finds them doing just that quite handily.

Neil Donell on vocals officially joined the crew in 2018.

The outfit that took the stage in Nashville featured a brand new guitar player hand-picked and hailing from Music City named Tony Obrohta who was only recently carefully chosen to take the place vacated by their longest tenured axeman Keith Howland. Tony joins Lamm, and the other original members Lee Loughnane on trumpet and vocals and James Pankow on trombone. The patented Chicago sound on stage is presented with help from Wally Reyes Jr. on drums, Lou Pardini on keyboards and vocals, Ray Herrmann on sax and flute, Brett Simons on bass and Ramon "Ray" Yslas on percussion.

Taking a page from many other legacy acts like Journey, Judas Priest, Kansas and Queen the group mined the tribute talent pool to find their latest lead singer in 2018. The very accomplished Canadian Neil Donell slots into the high profile position once held down by the legendary lineage created by their previous performers Peter Cetera, Jason Scheff and Jeff Coffey - and by all accounts he did a stellar job in the Circle's spotlight.

The Grand Ole Opry was Chicago country in December.

So, as Robert Lamm suggested - anyone and everyone in Chicago can be replaced and the band that took the stage in Music City was fired up and firing on all cylinders over two well paced sets at the Grand Ole Opry that presented the back catalogue in a logical and pleasing order that mixed rockers and the million dollar ballads. The only thing missing? For a group that has released four full-length Christmas albums their wasn't a hint of one holiday song in the air. Still, the greatest gift was simply being in the presence of these giants after the Grinch successfully stole music from us this past year and a half.

More scenes from the Chicago concert in Nashville.

The new lineup is working out so well in fact that a new tour for 2022 was recently announced that finds the boys pairing up with Brian Wilson to co-headline a 25-city trek across the US. With both Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the Live Nation produced routing brings together the timeless music of Chicago and the classic sounds of Brian Wilson. The festivities kick off on June 7th at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, AZ making stops across the U.S. in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Tampa, Cincinnati and more before wrapping up in Clarkston, MI at DTE Energy Music Theatre on July 26th.

Setlist: Introduction | Questions 67 & 68 | Dialogue (Part I & II) | Wake Up Sunshine | Call on Me | (I've Been) Searchin' So Long | Mongonucleosis | If You Leave Me Now | Look Away | Make Me Smile | Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon | Alive Again | Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? | Old Days | Hard Habit to Break | You're the Inspiration | Beginnings | I'm a Man | Just You 'n' Me | Hard to Say I'm Sorry / Get Away | Saturday in the Park | Feelin' Stronger Every Day | Encore | Free | 25 or 6 to 4

The Chicago logo is the recognizable brand for the world famous band.

Related Links: For more information on CHICAGO and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Chicago | Grand Ole Opry House


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