Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Park West, Chicago, IL- 8/15
If you’re a native Chicagoan, you know how beautiful a Midwestern fall season can be with perfect cool temperatures and beautiful sights of the trees changing colors. You also would know how fall often seems to go by with a blink of an eye, leaving a cold and frigid winter starring right at you, keeping you in its sights for what can seem like an eternity.
With weather like this—Chicagoans always, or at least should always, take advantage of every summer day. And so when soulful, jam-friendly Robert Randolph & the Family Band came to town on August 15th, it was a perfect time to hear some live music that summarizes a great summer time.
On tour in support of his very recently released new studio album, Lickety Split, Robert Randolph & the Family Band returned to Chicago to perform at Park West—their first show in the windy city since ringing in 2013 at the same venue.
Instead of shredding through 30 minute plus jams that the Family band had been known for in their early beginnings, Randolph gave Chicago a more crisp, cleaner show with polished songs while still keeping the electric sound that attracted so many in the jamband scene to his music.
As is usual for the group, Robert Randolph sprinkled energetic and lively covers throughout his set. Chicago’s show included “Foxy Lady” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” which, not surprisingly, got even more feet moving under the Park West disco ball that hung on the ceiling up above. Then in traditional Robert Randolph crowd-interaction fashion, the Brooklyn native welcomed all female attendees to the stage for an extended version of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips,” a song that was later made famous by the Rolling Stones. However Randolph didn’t stop there, he then handed a fan a guitar and brought him on stage to join a Family Band jam, where the fan surprisingly fit right in, displaying some easily above-average guitar skills.
One of the highlights of the night came from a song off the new album, “Get Ready.” The tune introduced a funky yet climatic composition into the show’s catalog, getting the audience to rock out to a just recently released song—which can be often difficult to do.
The set list included songs from Randolph’s entire career, spanning from 2003’s Unclassified, to his group’s most recent release, Lickety Split. The Family band jammed through “I Need More Love” and “Going in the Right Direction” off of Unclassified, songs which have always been known as both jam vehicles and fan favorites.
Robert Randolph & the Family Band kept an eager Chicago crowd on their feet, treating the audience to familiar songs while introducing new songs and familiar covers at the same time. Robert Randolph brought upbeat, fun songs that Chicagoans were hoping for, sounds that extended a dwindling summer buzz; just a little bit longer.