THE MANCHESTER 1998 REPORT By Ian Pearson
Pic by Peter Hellström
Theatre – Manchester, England, July 2nd. 1998
It had been sixteen years since I
last saw the "Mighty Elements". My impatience was beginning to show with about 1
hour to go, even the support artist Denny Hines appeared to be in a rush to finish her set
and make way for "The Gods" as she put it.
Anxiety over – To thunderous applause EWF emerged on stage and, straight into a blistering
opening of "Mighty Mighty" – Everyone looked great, emblazoned in funky
outfits. The opening
was a montage of numbers including "Shining Star", "Can’t Hide Love",
"Sun Goddess", "Head to the Sky", "Let Me Talk" each one
seamlessly fused in a procession of musical excellence.
The crowd was by now in full swing, – then a scorching rendition of "September"
took us to higher levels of fervor. Some of the band cooled down while we were treated to
a feast of percussion interplay between the four "drummers" effortlessly
interchanging between each other.
The tempo slowed for some "resting" as Phillip Bailey quipped with the
He then enthralled us with "I’ll Write A Song For You" followed by Sheldon
Reynolds weighing in with an impressive performance of "Be Ever Wonderful".
We were soon whipped up again as the frenetic pace returned, The Band pumping out "In
the Stone" and "Getaway", which was interspersed by a guitar
"duel" between Morris Pleasure and Mr Entertainment, the outrageous Verdine
White, laying down some incredibly nasty bass. The galaxy of songs continued with the
awesome "Fantasy" and, "Reasons", yet again displaying the outstanding
vocal talents of Phillip Bailey – His passionate delivery of songs was
Sonny Emory gave a mind blowing solo performance, which not only sounded
was visually stunning aswell (if not a little self indulgent). Several sax solos were
excellently performed by Gary Bias, none better than in "After The Love has
Gone". The climax of the show included storming performances of "Sing A
Song", "Boogie Wonderland" and a stonking "Lets Groove". On an
unusually hot night for Manchester, energy & perspiration was in abundance both on and
off the stage. The encore inluded "Beijo" and the classic "Thats The Way Of
The World". The fourteen band members were deafeningly cheered and applauded
offstage, as a superlative packed evening drew to a close. The audience left on a
"natural" high from an unforgetable experience. I just hope I don’t have to wait
another sixteen years for our paths to cross again.