Universal Amphitheater –
Los Angeles, Aug 28th. 1997 The EWF concert at the Universal
Amphitheater on August 28th was quite unique for me. First of all, my wife came down with
the flu the night before the concert, so I attended the concert solo. Also, instead of
sitting in my assigned seat number (which was to the side of the stage anyway), I decided
to "park" myself right behind the Sound Engineer in the center of the arena, 2
sections back. Since I was alone, I pretended to be part of the "sound and stage
lighting crew", and just knelt down on one knee right behind their cubicle area. The
ushers didn’t bother asking me any questions, because again, I just "blended
in." So, obiviously I had a great view of the concert and also an opportunity to see
how the stage and sound crew work their magic.
Well the concert itself on a scale from 1 to 10, in my opinion, was a 7. The sound was a
little too loud for the bottom section and the bass level on all instruments was too bland
for Verdine, but the overall sound). Like I said, looking directly behind the sound
engineer doing his thing, he kept playing with all these knobs, but really didn’t make any
adjustments to "enhance" the audio portion of the concert. Like a home
equalizer, I personally like the " V " shape adjustments of the knobs for both
sides of the e.q. The " V " setting, to me, allows the treble to be heard
crisply and the bass to be heard with a deep and rich thump (i.e. Larry Graham signature
bass licks). But the sound engineer for EWF had all of the control knobs "straight
across in a line" and I kept seeing the digital display lights on his board going up
into the red. So he didn’t do such a good job to make the concert sound as clear and crisp
as when I last saw them here at the Pantages Theatre in 1995. By the way, there was NO
MAURICE at this concert also! Where as at the Pantages concert in ’95, Maurice did come
out for the encore when the band played "Devotion". As for the format of the
concert, it was almost identical like their current Millennium Concert video, except for
again, no Maurice.
Also, there was this a "hasty atmosphere" to their songs during the concert.
Sort of like they were trying to finish one song right after another in a rush, without
hardly any audience interface like they usually do, in order to get the concert over with
as soon as possible? And I believe I know why. With all the other performers playing
before them, EWF didn’t start they set until 10:35 p.m. and they ended at 12:10 a.m. in
the morning! So the entire package, to say the least, was simply too long. On the brighter
side of the concert, Phillip’s voice is still as sweet as ever! He sounded great on
"Reasons" and the group did it in a different way where it was more melodic than
the studio version. On all the instrumental portions of the concert, the group sounded
great! "Sun Goddess" was one song that stood out as a great crowd pleaser. Also,
David Romero’s percussion on congas was fantastic all night. He’s really become a fixture
with EWF with his congas and percussion, especially when he’s jamming on those "side
ways congas" during "Devotion". It’s almost sad to say, that now, it just
might be better to hear EWF in concert instrumentally, rather than hearing them sing in
concert, because of the fact that Maurice no longer performs live with the group. Sheldon
does replace Maurice on the songs Mo sings lead on, like "Can’t hide love", but
at the same time you can "feel" the audience response was not as receptive like
it normally would be had it been Maurice doing the singing.
Towards the end of the concert, I finally got up and started to walk around the arena to
get a different birds eye view of the group in concert. Upstairs in the balcony, I was a
little surprised to see many empty seats at the both corners of the balcony. Not empty
because people got up and left early I’m sure, but empty because I believe the concert
wasn’t a sell out. You could only speculate for several reasons why it wasn’t a sell out.
For what it’s worth, EWF did not play one song from their new album(s), In The Name Of
Love or Avatar. For the encore of "Devotion", Larry Graham, Teena Marie, Sinbad
and yes, Rick James came on stage to help end the concert.
After the concert, I also was able to sneak back stage and meet and get autographs from
several musicians who performed that night. I met Larry Graham, Tina Graham (she even gave
me hug because I told her of all the concerts I’ve seen her husband with the original Sly
& the Family Stone band). Then I got Sonny Emory’s autograph, Sheldon Reynolds
autograph, and finally I got Reggie Young’s autograph. I spoke with Reggie for several
minutes and the first question I asked him was if Maurice did perform with the group
during their tour of Japan in 1996? Reggie responded by saying YES, Maurice did in fact
perform in concert with the group during their Japan 1996 Avatar Tour. But that he chose
not to tour here in the states, for whatever personal reason he had. As far as any
souvenir’s being sold at the concert that evening, all that was being sold were Graham
Central Station t-shirts and caps & Sinbad Soul Festival caps and t-shirts. But alas,
no Earth, Wind & Fire merchandise……none what so ever! No program, no t-shirts, no
caps, no nada.
Los Angeles, California
Feel I have to correct a couple of things in the report. First, in his report, Moses says
they didn’t do anything from the new album. This is not correct. They did
"Revolution". Philip even introduced it as a song from the new album.
Secondly I’ve got this from Jonathan R. Lieu. He is very much correct when he says:
The sound of EWF was better than the previous two acts but as Mose Torres commented, it
could have been so much better. Now, I will clear up some misunderstanding. Mr. Torres
stated that he likes the V-shape on an equalizer. That is usually only necessary with
inferior speaker systems. This is in no way meant to offend Mr. Torres. I am just trying
to clarify a few things. I am a sales counselor at an
electronics chain in Southern California so I have heard speakers that need the
"smiley-face" or V-shape e.q. and those that need minimal frequency adjustments.
Mr. Torres also states that "the sound engineer for EWF had all of the control knobs
‘straight across in a line’ …" rather than in the V-shape I presume he would have
preferred. He was most likely not looking at the equalizer at all. You see, the equalizer
section on a sound reinforcement board like the one used, is a group of small circular
knobs in the upper middle portion of the console. Unless he was standing right over the
console, I don’t think he could have seen what these were set at. It is more likely that
the "knobs" he was looking at were sliders, or faders as they are called by
engineers. This would explain the "straight across in a line" that Mr. Torres
describes. The faders merely bring sound level up or down, in other words, loud or soft.
Having the faders at "nominal level" is the correct way of setting the faders in
general. The reason for the muddy bass which Moses describes sounded more like the desire
to make everyone deaf. EWF’s house mixer, suffered from the same thing the other two
engineers did. The concert would have been much more enjoyable if he had just brought the
band down a few decibels so we could hear Philip
I agree with Moses that the show at the Pantages Theater in 1995 sounded much better. The
show at the Greek Theatre in 1996 also sounded far superior. I saw EWF at the Universal
Amphitheater for the first time in 1987. The sound was incredible! There is nothing wrong
with the equipment there. It is the fault of the engineers.
Jonathan R. Lieu.
…And finally. Many of you have commented about the screening of "The
Definitive EWF Homepage" at <www.ewf.com> before the concert started. This is
unlikely to happen because the domain name <ewf.com> is owned by a company in
Shanghai, and has, as far as I know, nothing to do with the EWF organization. However EWF
has the rights to the name <ewf.net> and <eartwindandfire.com>.