Saturday, February 9, 2013

DVD REVIEW: Chicago "Backstage Pass"

Backstage Pass

Their sound and songs
are iconic. And with a 
career that now spans
more than 45 years
and record sales
totaling in the tens
of millions, Chicago
remains one of rock's
most endearing bands.

Formed in 1967, Chicago released their debut record in 1969. By the mid '70s they had become one of the biggest bands in the world — racking up an impressive slew of Top Ten albums and an unbelievable string of chart-busting hits including, "Saturday in the Park,"  "25 or 6 to 4,"  "Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?," "Colour My World," "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," "Call on Me," "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long,"  "Just You 'n' Me," "Old Days," "If You Leave Me Now" — the list just goes on (and on).

The rally kept-a-rollin' during the '80s, and Chicago enjoyed even greater success with more platinum-selling albums and scoring the additional hit singles, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "You're the Inspiration," "Stay the Night," "Hard Habit to Break" and "Along Comes a Woman."

Chicago live in Orlando, Florida - 2011.
(Photo: Christopher Long)
The band remained active throughout the '90s and into the new millennium. And today, perennial members Robert Lamm (keyboards) Lee Loughnane (trumpet), James Pankow (trombone) and Walt Parazaider (saxophone), along with newer recruits Jason Scheff (bass), Tris Imboden (drums), Lou Paradini (keyboards) and Keith Howland (guitar), Chicago continues to pack arenas worldwide.

As a testament to Chicago's lasting popularity, Backstage Pass offers a unique glimpse into life on the road with this legendary band during their mammoth 2011 world tour — from France to Denmark to Norway to Germany to Spain to England to Sweden and beyond — including various stops throughout the U.S.

Chicago - 2011
Viewers are offered a virtual bird's-eye view — being placed directly onstage with band — and backstage too — gaining fly-on-the-wall insight during private recording sessions and personal meet-and-greets with some of their often rather exuberant fans.

Directed by Peter Pardini, Backstage Pass oozes live action concert footage, but it also is a treasure trove of compelling photo stills from onstage as well as behind the scenes. Up close and personal interviews spotlight each band member and the extensive footage of Tris Imboden's feet (in action — live) will prove to be a particular treat for drummers. Given the saturation of their (near) endless hit studio recordings over the years, it's possible to forget just what an incredible live band Chicago really is — and therein lies the coolest aspect of this DVD — crystal clear audio and beautifully shot, in-your-face video of an amazing rock band — LIVE onstage.

-Christopher Long
(February 2013)

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