Morris Day & The Time
Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisThe Taste of Chicago turned twenty-five this year, and based on the old school music featured during the soul segment of the city's favorite festival, it could've very well been the early 80s. After all, when the likes of disco diva Donna Summer, funky fury The Gap Band and "Purple Rain" movie players Morris Day and the Time are billed within the same week, it's the ultimate throwback to the past. Indeed nostalgia was a key marquee attraction come 2005, but just because each act ties date back to yesteryear didn't exclude their ability to entertain long past their hit prime.
A case in point came with Wednesday night headliners The Gap Band, who revved up the "Party Train" all night long. The gang came to the Taste decked out in white fringe suits resembling squeaky-clean cowboys, though they all got down and dirty to the bass thumps, glossy keyboards and bouncing percussion. Front man Charlie Wilson commanded attention while ring leading the catchy likes of "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" and "I Don't Believe You Want to Get up and Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head)." The crowd also got down with "Outstanding" and hooted at the top of their lungs when R Kelly was introduced on stage for a couple second cameo just prior to the encore. Though he didn't perform with the Gap Band, it was yet another point of momentum for the red-hot rump shakers throughout the 90-minute encounter.
Prior to that slot, Morris Day and the Time did the honors of warming everyone up with a combination of karaoke and dance-a-thons. Everyone joined in to the memorable hand motions of "Bird" and "Oak Tree," while the chants of "oh we oh we oh" were deepening during "Jungle Love." Morris and his men were also energetic throughout "Jerk Out," which earned initial revving by a posse member running a lap around the audience. The troupe also showed its sensitive side with the lone ballad (and always-eventful) "Gigolos Get Lonely Too." Of course, all the signature antics of checking their watches and Morris' hair in his golden mirror were also on the docket, much to the delight of diehards.
The day before that double dose of dance floor action, Mrs. Hot Stuff herself Donna Summer popped out on stage from a gigantic silver piano placed under a disco ball to conjure up further memories of the dusties era. She did just that throughout an ample greatest hits set, which mirrored her recent VH1 television special quite closely, but provided exactly what the droves expected. From "She Works Hard For the Money" to "Macarthur Park" and "Dim the Lights," the superstar's pipes stood strong, as did her agility. Though never known for bouncing to the degree of her peers, Summer got down and boogied during "On the Radio" (which also featured some background vocals from many audience members she called on stage) and pumped her microphone stand like a bench press throughout the bounce of "Hot Stuff."
Besides her own material, she gave Aretha Franklin a run for her money while delivering "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Women." However, a subdued take on the Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin" fell much shorter of the previous cover's glory. It's a shame too, especially since that group's symphonic rock sound could've been easily duplicated by Summer's full backing band and orchestra, though at least they were fully utilized on originals like "Last Dance." That track served as her show's finale, reminding all why the star's endured on the club scene and putting an incredibly suitable stamp on an attractive evening.
The Gap Band
Morris Day & The Time
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