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The City Journals

Sounds of summer return with Chicago, Brian Wilson at USANA

Jun 15, 2022 10:23AM ● By Tom Haraldsen
There are two distinct sounds that take me back to those summer days of my youth
in the ‘60s and ‘70s-–melodic group harmony and the magic of brass. They were found
at their best in the iconic music of the Beach Boys and Chicago.

Those memories and sounds came together Tuesday night when Brian Wilson of the
Beach Boys and rock group Chicago performed at the USANA Amphitheatre. As part of
their summer tour, Wilson and his mates, including South African singer Blondie Chaplin
and fellow Beach Boys co-founder Al Jardine; and three of the original members of
Chicago along with their great co-performers delighted a near-sellout crowd with hits of
yesteryear.

Wilson opened with a 20-song set of Beach Boy favorites, starting with “California
Girls” and finishing with “Surfin’ USA” and “Love and Mercy.” Aided in vocals by Jardine,
Chaplin, and Jardine’s son Matt, the sounds of a southern California summer filled
USANA. And Wilson’s set featured a guest spot by three members of Chicago, who
added horns to “Darlin,” a soul-flavored favorite.

Wilson, who turns 80 on June 20, remained fairly still behind the trademark white
piano he has played since the group began touring in the ‘60s, but his passion for the
songs of the Boys remains strong as ever. His musical director Paul Von Mertens,
playing the saxophone, clarinet, flute and the harmonica at different times during the
set, praised Wilson as “the man who brings us all together with his heart, his soul and
his music.”

Wilson received a standing ovation as the set finished, and rightfully so.

Chicago is now in its 55th year of performing since coming together as Chicago
Transit Authority in 1967. Original members Robert Lamm on keyboards and vocals,
Lee Loughnane on trumpet and vocals, and James Pankow on trombone led a 10-
member band that took the USANA crowd on an eclectic tour of the sounds that has
produced 38 albums and dozens of chart-topping hits.

Even after the first 12 songs Chicago performed, Pankow teased the audience by telling us “we’re going to as many of the songs you came to hear as we can.”

And they did.

Ray Hermann was brilliant on the saxophone, as was Pankow on the trombone and
Neil Donell on acoustic guitar. Lou Pardini on keyboards and drummer Walfredo Rayes,
Jr. embellished the contributions of Lamm, Loughnane and Pankow.

There was even something new, as Chicago played their new release, “If This is
Goodbye.” From “Old Days” through every song from “Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest
Hits,” the ensemble rocked the amphitheater to the powerful conclusion of “Saturday in
the Park” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.” When Chicago finished with its encore of
“25 or 6 to 4,” the journey back through memory lane felt complete.

USANA’s amazing summer lineup continues on Thursday with Stevie Nicks taking the
stage for an 8 p.m. show.