Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Earth, Wind and Fire brought three novelties to a sold-out Capital Centre audience Wednesday night and last night: a substantial amount of new music from an album, "All 'n' All," that should be in stores next week; a few illusions designed for the group by "Magic" star Doug Henning; a mammoth, 40,000-watt PA system that finally makes going to a concert almost as pleasant as listening to a serious hi-fi system at home - as long as you're sitting along the sides of the arena.
The new music fits right in the mainstream of Earth, Wind and Fire's bright, highly syncopated, percussive rhythm and blues. One new piece, "SPectrum," evolves as a lyric-less tune that imposes scat singing over thick rhythm textures and allows some long instrumental solos. In fact, the musical highpoint of the evening was probably a punchy, metallic guitar solo played by Johnny Graham.
The illusions were as good as can be expected in a sports arena: The band appeared mysteriously out of transparent tubes that descended from the ceiling at the beginning of the show. They disappeared at the end in a large metal pyramid and reappeared as space men with conical helmets.
The sound system, designed by recording engineer George Massenburg, involves 40 tons of speakers hanging from the ceiling in huge cabinets and some ultrasophisticated electronic circuitry that internally monitors the output of each individual speaker and tunes it to its optimum performance.
Unfortunately the Capital Centre's Telscreen system did not allow the full system to be deployed, and consequently the quality of the sound on the arena floor was significantly muffled.