On The Scene
Earth Wind & Fire's "main elements" -- Ralph Johnson, front left, Philip Bailey and Verdine White -- led the group through a superb one-hour, 45-minute concert last Tuesday in the Blaisdell Arena. The return engagement came almost exactly a year after EWF played the Diamond Head Crater Festival, and six years since their last show at the Blaisdell -- and they lived up to expectations once again. The show matched their work at the Crater but was enhanced by the arena sound and lighting. And, unlike some of the young acts that have played Blaisdell recently, EWF performed with no blackouts or downtime between songs. It was solid, nonstop entertainment from start to finish.
EWF founding member Verdine White was a show unto himself as he anchored the rhythm section. White remained in motion with barely a moment's rest throughout the concert.
Vocalist Ralph Johnson also was first among equals as one of several EWF percussionists. One of the unexpected highlights amid all the band's hits -- "Sing a Song," "Serpentine Fire" and "Let's Groove," to name three -- was a percussionists' duel between White on timbales and Philip Bailey on congas.
Philip Bailey thrilled the crowd with back-to-back renditions of "After the Love Is Gone" and "Reasons" that proved he still has the vocal range and power he had when he recorded them more than 30 years ago. "Sun Goddess," "Got to Get You Into My Life," "Can't Hide Love" and "That's the Way of the World" were other highlights in a perfect concert.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann went backstage after the sold-out show to congratulate Johnson, left, White and concert promoter "Uncle Tom" Moffatt. Hannemann met Johnson and White at the Crater last year; he said he plans to issue a proclamation calling for EWF to do a concert here on an annual basis.