Few groups encompass horn-driven pop and funk than Earth, Wind & Fire and recent Hall of Fame inductees Chicago. The two bands teamed up last year for the co-headlining Heart and Soul tour, with the trek adding a second leg by popular demand. The groups wrapped up “Heart and Soul 2.0” Monday night at Madison Square Garden with a three-and-a-half hour show to an eclectic, all-ages crowd.
Horns aside, the two bands reveled and boasted their disparate mix of bedroom-ready ballads and dance floor-centric tracks. Earth, Wind & Fire original members Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson enlisted shiny suits and large horn and percussion sections (which included Philip Bailey’s son, Philip Jr.) to properly fill the arena, delivering a career-spanning set that included “Boogie Wonderland,” “Fantasy” and “Let’s Groove” (alongside a brief, somber tribute to founding member Maurice White, who died in February).
Chicago, led by founding member Robert Lamm, helped open Earth, Wind and Fire’s set with “Beginnings,” returning after the funk band to perform more than 25 songs that blended radio staples with deeper cuts and a cover of Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man.”
The two groups coalesced at the end, effortlessly blending catalogs into one superjam. White, at 64, bounced around the stage, doing 360s with his bass and showing Iggy Pop-levels of energy. By the time the groups ended with EW&F’s “Shining Star” and Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” it was a testament to each band’s enduring catalog, with songs older than half the audience still resonating with vibrant force.