June 10, 2016
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Grand Prairie, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Sam McClary
40 Years Of Compressed Perfection
1976 seems within our grasp still. Politics have us divided, the Russians are back in play and girls still wear flares and feathered hair. But really connects us to our Bicentennial is our radio dial and in the Dallas market no station owes as much to 76' as 92.5 FM, which tonight was celebrating another year in existence. Another year living off the bones of Zeppelin, the Stones, Pink Floyd and Bad Company, but aside from SR Vaughan, the one act that gets massive traction from the station is Boston. Be it the chart-killing debut or the follow up Don't Look Back, the Massachusetts legends are an every hour on the hour rotation mainstay. And Friday night on a bit of payback, the 6-piece recreated the sounds from those first two records plus an ample dose of Third Stage and Walk On gems.
The loss of vocalist Brad Delp years back still haunts the band but Tom Scholz soldiers on with co-lead player Gary Phil and a host of journeyman and vocalist Tommy DeCarlo who has glimpses of Delp but still lacks that "out of this world" quality that set Brad at the top of the echelon of rock singers. But with four and five part harmonies supplemented by the noted "Boston guitar sound" plays cover really, really well. Boston like many of its contemporaries from the day were never about individuals within the bands but about the songs themselves, that is why the quality still holds up today and while though attempted is never equaled by today's crop of acts. And that "guitar sound,"the severely compressed invention of Scholz and his MIT labs buddies creates not only tight and concise notes but also acts as an additional chorus, ingenious in its creation. Scholz and Phil together is still a formidable tandem up there with Downing/Tipton and Gorham/Robertson and their pairing drives the band effortlessly thru their classic material.
As a massive 60-foot screen unfurled an American flag, Scholz launched into a chaotic version of the "Star Spangled Banner" warts and all before gliding properly into "Rock And Roll Band," a sweet harmonized bulldozer of power pop brilliance. "Feelin' Satisfied" is a thundering and joyous track with the T-tops off and the sun guiding you down the highway. And this is how the evening played throughout, a virtual jukebox of Boston with a shitload of quarters at our disposal. "Smokin'," "Peace of Mind" and a muscular take on "Don't Look Back" kept the crowd of 5500 on their feet (which is quite surprising as many of them were supremely loaded). Some swerves off the map occurred with tracks from Third Stage were played back to back to back including "Cool The Engines" and "Amanda,"that was always an interesting record, it lacked punch but the structure was there however the production was lackluster.
The opening chords of the A+ standard bearer of rock anthems "More Than A Feeling" and all of a sudden 40 years were as thought they never happened. Big, sweeping rock of this stature has been missing for years but thankfully as long as stages exist, Boston and others can churn out this solid gold for years to come. As DeCarlo approached the high notes of the last verse, guitarist and co-vocalist Beth Cohen supplemented her high reaching notes with his baritone to create the right blend that Delp knocked out with ease back in the day. One of the highly overlooked tracks of the self-titled Boston 40M seller was "Something About You" and that barnburner riff that Scholz and then lead player Barry Gordeau just riveted into the head of the listener. What could have easily been a bit of a filler ended being one of the true highlights of the evening especially with that underlying riffs and the chorus that is both rousing and a ton of fun "I got ta, got ta have you!"
Boston closed the two hour set off with "Long Time" the only track that could live up to the rest of the set, a collective of songs that were essential to a lot of our early years and teens but that still resonate as we pay our mortgages and get the kids off to school. You see that's the magic in the music, especially the stuff that sends us back to a simpler time in our lives, we always remember our firsts: the kiss, the dance, the song, and for millions the rocket ship that adorned the front cover of the Boston album, all those flames and yellows and reds. And like that artwork, tonight and Boston's performance was interstellar and fiery.