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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 3
Celebration! - Kool & the Gang bring the party to Snoqualmie
Arts & Entertainment
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Celebration! - Kool & the Gang bring the party to Snoqualmie

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

KOOL & THE GANG
SNOQUALMIE CASINO
January 11


A hot mess. That's one way to describe the scene when Kool & the Gang played to a full house at Snoqualmie Casino last weekend. People of every age, color, sexual orientation, and size were represented in the crowd, and everybody was having a real good time - partying, laughing, dancing, spilling drinks on the floor. After all, it's exactly what the retro R&B band preaches in their lyrics: 'So bring your good times, and your laughter too. We gonna celebrate your party with you.'

The 90-minute performance kicked off with 'Fresh,' one of many hits the award-winning group would unleash during their set. This wasn't a cheap latter-day imitation of the band, either. Four original members, plus an extra vocalist, two keyboardists, a pair of guitarists, and a drummer made up the ensemble. Most of them multitasked, filling in as the brass section, shaking a tambourine, or tapping a wood block.

'Tonight,' 'Emergency,' and 'Misled' were squeezed into a medley, but everything else was played in its entirety, including a few extended versions. 'Joanna,' one of the few slow jams in the set, featured a short trombone solo by Clifford Adams. It proved to be the calm before the storm, as the Snoqualmie ballroom took on a wild party atmosphere soon thereafter.

TIME TO GET DOWN
'Hollywood Swingin' got much of the audience on its feet, including a side wall lined with middle-aged women who shimmied with extreme delight. 'Jungle Boogie' had the same effect, as concertgoers waved their hands in the air and swayed their hips. 'Open Sesame,' an instrumental number from an album by the same name and on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, wasn't well recognized by the Snoqualmie crowd, many of whom sat down to rest their legs.

Kool & the Gang's signature ballad 'Cherish' was given a two-minute keyboard intro, before a throng of women flooded the center aisle and the area just below the stage. The rest of us stayed in our seats and sang along to the chorus.

'Ladies' Night' and a long, funky version of 'Get Down On It' closed out the main portion of the show. By this time, people were dancing in the aisles, older men were grinding with much younger women, girls were shouting, foreheads were sweaty - it was almost, though not quite, like a lively, charismatic church service.

THE REAL DEAL
The band returned for an encore consisting of only one song, but it was a doozy. 'Celebration,' a worldwide hit played at everything from wedding receptions to New Year's parties to sporting events, closed out a super-fun, vibrant performance.

What I appreciated besides the fact that Kool & the Gang delivered the hits in a high-energy concert was that they did it with style. Not only were they well-dressed and professional, but they played real instruments and sang their own vocals, never infusing their music with digital samples or DJ wizardry. This is how they've lasted as long as they have - staying original.

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