We’re angry at old people, aren’t we? We get angry with them when they vote how we don’t, and we get angry at them when they add our friends on Facebook that they’ve never met. They seem to have it all – lie-ins, early retirement, that lovely talcum-y aroma. But that’s just it, isn’t it? We’re jealous. Old people are smashing it. Look no further than Glasgow’s O2 Academy, who have the pleasure of hosting Chicago supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire. Along with the likes of veteran acts such as Bruce Springsteen and Dolly Parton, the band who “changed the sound of black pop” are finding their popularity persists in our current musical situation where nostalgia and novelty collide.
Following the passing of innovative group founder Maurice White earlier this year, three original members of the group remain: Ralph Johnson, Verdine White, and Philip Bailey, largely recognised as White’s successor (and as the co-writer and performer of Grammy-nominated hit Easy Lover). This was a typically genre-fragmenting and charismatic stage performance. The current line-up of incredibly talented musicians includes Bailey’s own son Philip Bailey Jr. – a nod to the ongoing legacy of Earth Wind & Fire’s music and message. A seamless stream of jazz, funk and soul classics included After The Love Has Gone, September, and their version of The Beatles’ Got To Get You Into My Life. Percussion stands stretch their spindly legs out seemingly to the very front of the stage – Earth Wind & Fire make a whole lot of noise and take up a whole lot of room, and that’s even before their synchronised dance routines begin. The evening flashed past in a sparkling, non-stop celebration of the group’s considerable contribution to music – past, present, and certainly to come.
The group may be missing a female influence after the long-since departure of Jessica Cleaves, but overall the inevitable success of this tour of theirs – continuing effectively break-free until November 2016 – proves that Earth Wind & Fire have found, along with their 21st century band members, a new audience to accompany their lifelong fans. My ageist rage having subsided, I leave the venue with a replenished, guilty view of my wrinkled brethren – boogying alongside me, emotional to the point of tears at seeing their favourite band. Earth Wind & Fire – world supergroup, cultural icons, and unifier of generations. With fabulous outfits.