Chicago IX, Chicago’s Greatest Hits was, more than any other album, the soundtrack of my college years. I cannot begin to guess how often I’ve heard the songs on that record.

  • 25 or 6 to 4
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
  • Colour My World
  • Just You “N” Me
  • Saturday in the Park
  • Feelin’ Stronger Every Day
  • Make Me Smile
  • Wishing You Were Here
  • Call on Me
  • (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long
  • Beginnings

I was on a trip for work last fall when my wife called and said Chicago was performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and asked if I wanted to go. I said sure — I like Chicago, I’d never seen the CSO and I’m always up for a date with my wife.


It was bitterly cold, so we drove down so we could park close and not have to walk from the train station or worry about a taxi. We arrived about two hours early and sat in the bowels of Orchestra Hall and watched a parade of young musicians wander by.


Our seats, when we could enter the hall itself, were about a third of the way up the balcony, right on the center aisle.


The place was packed, mostly with people about our age. There was an announcement before the performance that all photography and video was prohibited. For the first half, everybody pretty much cooperated, but after the intermission, there was a lot of picture taking going on. It wasn’t just that. As the night progressed, people began feeling more comfortable standing up and dancing too.

Four of the seven original members of the band were there. (And since one of the ones who wasn’t there is dead, I thought this was pretty impressive continuity.) Peter Cetera, who sang lead on a lot of the famous songs, wasn’t there. The guy who sang lead did a good job on some songs, not so good on others, but I enjoyed it all.

The orchestra was decidedly in the background. There was just one intro to one song when they were playing by themselves, and on several songs they weren’t playing at all. A few of the members were getting into the music, but most just sat stoically when they weren’t playing. During one song, the bass guitarist from Chicago went back and tried to get the two bass players from the CSO to jam with him, but they would have none of it. It seemed like the members of the band were doing all they could to direct attention to the orchestra and try to make them, and us, feel like they were part of it, but I’m not sure they were successful. The orchestra did fill in the sound a lot, and the place was definitely rocking. The highlight for me was the 10-minute drum duet by the two band percussionists in the middle of “I’m a Man.”

I waited until the last song to pull out my phone and take a few shots.


They did all the songs on Chicago IX except “Wishin’ You Were Here.” For one of them, almost every person on the right side of the balcony stood up. Nobody on the left side did. I thought that was odd.


 I could have listened for another hour or two.

The rest of these photos I swiped from my friend who went to the same concert three nights earlier and is bolder about taking photos when she isn’t supposed to.






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