Entertainment, Lifestyle

Peter Cetera a hard habit to break

For nearly two hours Thursday night, Peter Cetera thrilled a Lynn Auditorium crowd with a mix of Chicago and solo hits.

Lynn, Ma. 3-22-18. Peter Cetera performing at the Lynn Auditorium. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Peter Cetera said he always wanted to be a Beach Boy or a Beatle, but the rapturous, rowdy crowd at a near-capacity Lynn Auditorium Thursday night was perfectly happy that his own fabulous self was up on stage.

It’s easy to forget just how many hit singles Cetera had a hand in. And Thursday night, the former member of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Chicago played most of them, reminding his fans that few pop stars were hotter from the late-’60s through the ’90s.

Cetera’s distinctive tenor was featured on numerous Chicago hits, including “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “You’re the Inspiration” and “If You Leave Me Now,” which were among this show’s many highlights. He had a bunch of solo hits, too. “Glory of Love,” from the movie “Karate Kid Part II”, and “The Next Time I Fall,” with Tania Hancheroff singing the Amy Grant part, earned deafening ovations, as did “After All,” with Hancheroff subbing for Cher.

Cetera was backed by the Bad Daddies, his seven-piece band made up of session aces Boh Cooper (keyboards), Steve Brewster (drums), Joe Chemay (bass), Tony Obrohta (guitar), Chris Rodriguez (guitar), Jonathan Hamby (keyboards) and Hancheroff (vocals). They’re terrific.

Cetera was singer, songwriter and bassist for the band Chicago’s first 17 albums, from 1967 to 1985. Solo success and bad blood between him and his bandmates ended his partnership with the group. But the songs will live on forever. And he is the instantly recognizable voice of all those Billboard chart toppers.

For a shade less than two hours, Cetera, 73 years young and in remarkably strong voice, delivered one smash after another. “Restless Heart” and “Baby, What a Surprise” were neutered a bit by sound issues at the start, but once the mix was set right, it was one high point after another.

A five pack of Chicago classics mid-set had fans in a state of delirium, with dozens of fans, especially women, moving and grooving to the slow, sultry, slinky vibes of “Love Me Tomorrow,” “Wishing You Were Here” (three of the Beach Boys actually sang harmony on the record), “Stay the Night,” “If You Leave Me Now” and “You’re the Inspiration.”

“Hard Habit to Break” and “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” sent fans into apoplexy. Cigarette lighters were raised heavenward. I was amazed those things still exist.

Cetera was a fine host, gleefully chiding the crowd for not turning off the flash on their phones and purposely mispronouncing Pea-boddy and “forgetting” what city he was in.

The band got to show off during a medley of Beatles tunes. Hancheroff delivered a sweet and sultry intro to “Oh Darling” before the band kicked in, and Rodriguez, a monster all night on guitar, sang lead on “Come Together.”

For the encore, Cetera strapped on his electric bass and seemed like a man possessed during riotous versions of “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” and “25 or 6 to 4,” which sent the crowd home happy.

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