When Boston took to Stage AE Friday night, the first riff of the anthem “Rock and Roll Band” made me wish I was on the rock scene in the 70’s.
Boston, a band that first garnered success in the 1970’s with its self-titled, debut album, came to town with a new lineup, including a new singer, Tommy DeCarlo. I was worried that DeCarlo would be just a filler for the seemingly irreplaceable front man, Brad Delp, the original singer who committed suicide in 2007. DeCarlo matched Delp’s vocals from the self-salutary introduction of ”Rock and Roll Band” to the end of the nearly two hour set.
He (DeCarlo) was joined on stage by Tracy Ferrie, Curly Smith, David Victor, Gary Pihl and founding member Tom Scholz, all of whom provided back-up vocals to a set list that seemed straight off of the band’s “Greatest Hits” album. The band actually played 11 of the 16 tracks from their “Greatest Hits” recording. The crowd loved reliving memories from the 70’s and 80’s.
When the band fired” up “Smokin’,” a favorite from the first album, Tom Scholz switched from guitar to keyboards, displaying his extensive musical talent. At times, he’d turn introspective, closing his eyes and letting the music soar through his fingers before awakening to the sight of bedazzled onlookers.
Next up was “Feelin’ Satisfied,” from their second album “Don’t Look Back.” A stage-wide monitor behind the group displayed images of vast geographical landscapes and abstract patterns of color. The images were a visual personification of the lyrics “Come On, Let Us Give Your Mind a Ride.”
Boston rocked through “Peace of Mind” before sedating the crowd with the slow tempo introduction to “Cool the Engines.” By mid-song, DeCarlo had transformed the crowd into a rhythmic clapping mass, conducting them by waving his tambourine back and forth.
Then the audience followed the band on another journey, with the help of a visual montage of the city of Boston during the song “Don’t Look Back.” But the monitor did just that, reflecting images of the world and its solar system to the crowd.
And when the time felt right, Boston slowed the set and broke out the acoustics for “Amanda.” This tune set off good vibes within the crowd, and the band, in turn, played their set as if they were enjoying playing live for the first time. While Boston played “Walk On,” they deviated from the standard recorded version, stretching out with 15 minutes of instrumental solos led by Scholz.
For anyone who wanted more, Boston concluded the main set with a longer than album version of “Foreplay/Long Time.” The sound of this song, as with the entire concert, was reproduced with amazing musical accuracy, true to the original recordings.
Had this been the last song of the night, it would’ve been a great climax. The crowd’s energy was at its highest, and the sound seemed to have increased by about 3 volume levels.
But the band decided to come back out for an anti-climatic, two song encore, playing the tracks “Used to Bad News” and “Party.” However, by this time, much of the crowd had had their fill of Boston’s greatest hits, and many had left for the parking lot.
It seemed like the band was playing a final hurrah for the die-hards left in the crowd and themselves, as they showed no signs of wanting to end the party early.