Article 1973-06-14 New York City, NY

Garden Resounds to Johnny Winter and Chicago

Johnny Winter and the Jazz rock group Chicago are comparative rarities on the New York rock scene. Chicago plays here only once a year, and Winter has not appeared in the city for several years. Madison Square Garden played host to both of them last week.

Winter, who appeared Saturday, remains, despite his absence, one of the more bizarre elements of rock in an industry not noted for visual rectitude. An albino guitarist-singer, he stalked onstage in a full‐length black gown, Walt Disney's Wicked Witch come to play, guitar replacing broom stick. The audience welcomed him ecstatically, although he stopped the show at one time to chastise it for throwing some lethal love offerings at him.

His litany is rock ‘n’ roll—the phrase crops up in all his songs and his announcements. Again, audience response to this overkill of expression was baying enthusiasm.

Winter still works his blues leaning guitar into sheets of sound, involving the smears and slurs that made the instrumental rock of the late nineteen‐sixties so distinctive. That was also the time of Winter's arrival as a rock artist.

He now works with two drummers, a bass player (with whom he did much full frontal rubbing—a concession perhaps to the currently trendy theater rock) and a woman tambourinist. In view of the World Trade Center‐size amplification that Winter carries, the tambourine rattling was a little ineffectual, but maybe it gives him comfort.

Winter has lost none of his raunch‐rock power or glamour. Perhaps his marathon guitar solos sound similar at the end of the evening but it was a sustained show and an impressive return. On the bill, Foghat maintained its promise and Rocky Hill's rock sounded very promising.

The crowd for Chicago on Thursday was much less raunchy in appreciation than Winter's audience. But then Chicago is much less raunchy in its approach, being among the more sophisticated of groups. It is a band conscious of presentation—everything is kept tight, controlled and arranged. Very professional. The program mixed old with new and all sounded familiar because Chicago is a band with definite identity, sound and style.

The obsessive chanting of “We can make it happen” in one composition recalled the innocence of yesteryear, the Woodstock Age. But maybe the very new “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” was more accurate.

Bruce Springsteen, a performer who is both Dylanesque and punk rock, opened the concert.

By Ian Dove via The New York Times.
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