Chicago & Brian Wilson w/ Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin• June 14, 2022• USANA Amphitheatre
Reviewed by Josilyn Wakkuri Lybbert
Chicago, with Brian Wilson, played a packed USANA Amphitheater on June 14, 2022! Fans of all ages gathered to see and hear some iconic hits primarily from the 60s, 70s, and 80s! Anticipation was apparent as people waited in line to go through security. While I was in line, I heard various conversations taking place ranging from how many times some of the concertgoers had seen Chicago live before, to those like myself who were so excited to hear some of the classic Beach Boys songs performed by Brian Wilson!
Brian Wilson, the mastermind of the Beach Boys, took the stage first with his 11-piece band, including Al Jardine, also of the Beach Boys, and Blondie Chaplin, who was a Beach Boy for a few years in the 70s and also notably toured with the Rolling Stones for a time as an acoustic guitarist. Wilson and his band kicked off the night with one of his many popular hits, “California Girls”. They continued on by playing some of their other big tunes like, “I Get Around,” and, “Surfer Girl”.
Those were followed by the Beach Boys’ song, “Salt Lake”. That one was of course met with so much enthusiasm! It talks about how Salt Lake has, “the grooviest kids”. And mentions the Lagoon amusement park, skiing, and other details they enjoyed about Utah! The Beach Boys played at Lagoon nearly a dozen times throughout the 60s and 70s. That must’ve contributed to the song about their love of Utah!
The vocal star of their set was Matt Jardine, Al Jardine’s son. He definitely provided that classic Beach Boys sound, and I was so impressed by that! All of the other musicians also provided clear, crisp harmonies. It contributed to the overall greatness of the sound for this show. They sang hit after hit like, “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and, “Surfin’ U.S.A,” just to mention a few out of their twenty song setlist!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this set. I knew that due to Brian’s age and health, the show may be a bit different than a typical concert. And it was. He sang bits and pieces of each song. When his voice trailed off, his bandmates and friends – even the crowd – lovingly picked up right where he left off. That was a touching thing to witness! Brian seemed so happy to be there on stage. Even though his singing moments were brief, his voice was still recognizable. For others his age, that isn’t the case.
Wilson would proudly announce some of the songs he wrote, or nod with a smile when others did. More than any other song, Brian sang a good portion of, “God Only Knows”. It was already my favorite song of his prior to the show, it was probably the most memorable of the show. Regardless of his current condition, it was still apparent that we were in the presence of one of the most legendary singer-songwriters of all time. Most of the crowd knew the words to nearly every song the band played, and people frequently shouted, “We love you, Brian!” It was an honor to be there!
Chicago was up next, and the excitement could be seen and heard throughout the amphitheater! The band took the stage and performed a lengthy, talent-filled introduction to their set. The band encouraged the audience to clap along by sequentially clapping along, too. Right off the bat, it seemed that the band was just as excited to be there as the audience! They had mesmerizing visuals and lights, with no two songs sharing the same visual production!
Out of their nearly thirty song set, the first song I recognized was, “If You Leave Me Now,” but that definitely wasn’t the case for those around me! I was surrounded by many Chicago super fans! A lot of excited squeals took place around me during the whole evening once Chicago took the stage. Similar to those you’d hear in footage from a Beatles concert back in the day. Someone behind me said, “Here comes the memories flooding back, just from these songs!” Later, another said, “This is just a walk down memory lane!” I love how live music can do that, and I was happy that they were able to be experiencing that night!
The band even played a new single, “If This is Goodbye,” from a new album, Born For This Moment, that will be coming out on July 15, 2022! It was such a good song. A lot of times it seems like long-reigning bands’ new music doesn’t quite live up to their older work, but this song was just as good as Chicago’s classics!
When asked how the concert was, the first thought that comes to mind is, “They jammed!” Songs flowed seamlessly together because the band just played and played together right from one song to the next! I was surprised once I realized they had just played through six or seven songs, when I thought it had been two or three! They played their hits such as, “You’re The Inspiration,” “Hard To Say I’m Sorry,” and “25 or 6 to 4.” Towards the end of the night, it was so windy and cold. Chicago told everyone to get up and dance to the next song, which was the infamous, “Saturday At The Park,” and I realized that was what we should have been doing the whole time because it really warmed us up!
I was surprised to learn that out of the eleven band members on stage, only three of them (Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, and James Pankow) were the original members of Chicago. Neil Donell, who has been with the band since 2018, did an absolutely phenomenal job singing in that high vocal range that many people recognize Chicago for. When they mentioned that they had been making music for 55 years, I couldn’t believe it! They really sounded so good! The band was joyful throughout the entire set! Even when the temperatures dropped and the wind gusted throughout the amphitheater, that didn’t hinder their performance at all. They would sporadically step off stage until they each had grabbed a jacket to keep them warm for the remainder of the show! Surprisingly, the wind didn’t affect any of the sound quality during the concert. It remained clear and undistorted the whole time!
Chicago and Brian Wilson provided a night of sweet nostalgia and quality entertainment for all in attendance! It’s not every day that one gets to experience performances from those who have easily held the title, “Legendary,” for decades, and the crowd and I were sure lucky to be a part of it!