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Al McKay Earth Wind & Fire - Klaipeda,June 09 2019

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    Posted: 12 Jun 2019 at 10:31am
After some days of dry and warm or even hot weather Klaipeda Castle Jazz Fest met us with clouds and the rain at the last day's concerts. We did 200 miles car trip from Vilnius to seaside mostly to see legendary Earth Wind & Fire playing live there on open air annual free fest's scene right on the bay coast.

The Old Mill Hotel placed just a few minutes walk from the scene was our home for this night. After "must do" short trip around Old Town we changed our t-shirts and shorts to leather jackets and boots and armed with umbrella did a first check. There are no fixed time schedule in a Fest program for each artist, so one can count by himself and hope his expectation is true. Our first short trip to scene's area gave us a meeting with groovy and heavy but far not really jazzy Polish bassist Woitek Pilichowski this year's project. Scene veteran and regular Klaipeda fest guest, this time Woitek bring here funk-punk band with rock heavy but stone-straight drummer and female singer, them all would sound quite acceptable on students' party at University camp, but in jazz fest program it was almost a true disaster. Far not enough motivation to fight with a wind and rain - we returned back to one of cozy bars on the coast beside of our hotel.

Second trip under the rain to scene's area gave us a bit better picture - young French guys led by Tom Ibarra were all-head higher than previous artists and we saw just last songs so this time our experience wasn't boring.

It took some time to change, connect and tune instruments and sound system for the headliners, but after our third (and last) return to the area right against the scene, Al MCay with his band started their show right away.

I never saw original Earth Wind & Fire line up playing live in my life so here it is difficult to judge. But what we experienced during nearest hour or more was equally great comparing with recordings coming from band's best period of time - late 70s and early 80s. Seasoned guitarist Al McCay was only original member on board, and even if he still was full of fire, we all understand that what we saw was absolutely new (and much younger) EW&F tribute band of sort. McCay;s name gave to all project (by the way, initiated some years ago by Japanese jazz festivals producers for participating in some gigs in Japan) more marketing attractiveness for sure, but their success is the result of highest professional level of all members plus respectable take on original material.

Thirteen-piece live band with three vocalists on the front, four-piece horn section o the back, two keyboardists,a drummer, percussionist, bassist and McKay himself on guitar demonstrated highest level of musical show with choreography elements, soloing, funk,soul and some ballads. Exceptional for concert sound quality added a lot as well.

The program contained all most popular EW&F hits from their "golden years"sounding extremely close to original with obviously expected "Boogie Wonderland" for the end. Here in Klaipeda the band started their European tour and you know what - I felt like the year is 1979 and I go crazy listening to the gods of the dance-floors of the time - original Earth Wind & Fire!

Edited by snobb - 17 Jun 2019 at 2:11pm
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