WOW, I don't know where to begin, this was the most incredible experience I've had with BOSTON ever.
The energy at the soundcheck that morning was amazing, as it had been for days, ever since people started arriving in Boston for our part of Brad's tribute.
As soon as Michael Sweet arrived for rehearsal on Wednesday I felt that good things were going to happen. This busy, talented guy had dropped everything to help us out, and his enthusiasm and natural good will set the tone for the next five days.
Everyone who took part from that point on was overflowing with positive energy; we were all so glad to see each other. I don't mean just the old friends, but rivals, even those of us from opposite sides of lawsuits, suddenly all seemed forgotten, meaningless, so obviously trivial, not because of our common loss, but because we were just genuinely happy to see each other again and exchange some real embraces.
Some of the high points for me personally were:
Seeing Fran Sheehan, beaming, the way I remembered him 25 years ago before the CBS lawsuit, jovial and effervescent as he grabbed my hand for the first time in all those years.
Doug Huffman all the way from Oregon, smiling from ear to ear with his sweet wife; I don't think Doug stopped smiling from the day he got in till the last I saw him after the show. I bet he's still grinning. David Sikes with his whole family, all the nicest people, all the way from northern California (and he still knows the bass parts better than I do!).
Fran Cosmo the way I remember him from our days in the 90's, full of life, laughing, radiating with the joy of being part of it, ready to shred some power chords with me.
Curly Smith all the way from Arizona to sing for us at the front of the stage for once! Jim Masdea all the way, 23 hours, from CHINA!!!, not just to play a song, the journey was for so much more; I know he felt all the same things I did. The moment we saw each other we were once again the closest of friends just like we were 35 years ago when we were jamming in his basement on "Foreplay." I couldn't believe how much I had missed these people.
I caught Barry's eye at sound check from his old spot at the other end of the stage and got that familiar smile as he ripped through the opening lead to "Don't Look Back," instantly I was back in 1978 looking across the stage at my old friend.
Six months ago, could anyone imagine anything that could have caused this to happen? I think Brad would agree this was the best legacy he could have left. Maybe it wasn't divine intervention, maybe it was just Brad intervention; maybe it was all of us finally catching on to what Brad was all about.
Gary, Kimberley, and Jeff all felt the same, automatically helping the others fit into our set and our space. This was not just cooperation or "getting along;" the feelings were so positive it was a genuine instant camaraderie between people who had, in many cases, never met before.
But the most amazing thing happened near the end of sound check. We had been plagued by equipment problems and miscabled gear for an hour. But finally, I was able to play the first few chords of "Don't Look Back" for Barry to get a level balance for his opening lead, and within seconds I began to hear everyone joining in to sing and play the song.
First Gary joined me on the rhythm chords, then Jeff and Dave Sikes, and soon Fran Sheehan, with Kimmy starting the vocals, then suddenly Fran Cosmo appeared next to me for the power chords we had done together hundreds of times, and as I looked across the stage everyone was up there singing and playing the song like we had been doing it all together for years.
I mean, this was the kind of thing you'd see at the end of a sappy movie and say to yourself, "yeah, that's nice, but that would never really happen!" Well, it did, and I'm still pinching myself.
At show time, the program was behind schedule, and there was not an extra second to spare. As I hear Carter Allen announce "...BOSTON," I look to my left to see Michael Sweet desperately trying to get sound from his guitar and a swarm of tech's feverishly pulling plugs in and out of his pedal board.
If this had been a normal BOSTON show we would have just begged a little extra time from the audience, and fixed the problem. But tonight, I knew we had to start if we were going to get to "Don't Look Back" before they pulled the plug on us.
Michael's guitar rig was out for the first half of the set, and he had to deal with tech's fiddling with the pedal board at this feet while he tried to get to his mic to sing the opening songs. With incredible cool he got through his songs in spite of it all, finally chucking the guitar all together for "More Than a Feeling."
His guitar playing and singing had been so good in rehearsal just the day before that both Gary and I spontaneously stopped to tell Michael that these songs had never sounded so good live as they did now with him playing. Unfortunately, no one other than us has gotten to hear that, yet.
There were massive sound and equipment problems on stage for most of the set, but somehow, it just didn't matter. It didn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm; it didn't bother anyone in the audience; unbelievably, it didn't even bother me! The night was magical, or maybe just blessed, I don't know. Especially when it came time for me to speak near the end.
Basically, I don't do public speaking. So as I expected, when I stepped up to the mic my mind simply went blank. There was a TelePrompTer on the floor with some notes I had made, but I couldn't quite read it. Somehow the thoughts came to me at the right time from nowhere. Never happened before, will never happen again! It seems like there was a lot of divine intervention going on that night, and maybe all week long.
Like for instance Michael Sweet out of the blue offering to interrupt two recording projects to fill in for Brad at what had to be an impossibly busy time for him. He drove back and forth through Cape Cod traffic to rehearse with us for days. His filling in for Brad really saved us, he was literally a God send.
And then there was the fan from North Carolina blindly sending us a link to a page which played a recording for us of him singing a BOSTON song, exactly like Brad, even down to the slightest tonal changes and inflections. And unbelievably this miracle singer turns out to be just a nice, regular guy, who gets on a plane to Boston, climbs on stage with a band he's just met, and blows everybody's mind! Didn't even get a sound check! Now that you've heard Tommy DeCarlo, did anybody miss Mickey Thomas?
Now I have to start on thank you's to the dozens of people that made it possible for us to pull this off, starting with my wife, Kim, who was behind anything that I managed to accomplish, and the only reason I made it through the last three weeks, then all the numerous Boston members who put in their time, the guest singers who lent a hand, the dozens of people in the crew and behind the scenes who held our effort together, the fans who put on and attended the pre show fundraiser for the DTS Charitable Foundation, especially Bill, Melissa, and George, and also Ernie Boch Jr., who sprang for the video coverage they put up on the jumbotron!
But especially I have to thank all those people who stayed late and stood for the entire set! No band has ever been treated so well; thank you all!
I'm still stunned by the unprecedented outpouring of honest to God love that I've witnessed over the last few days; for me this gathering has given me new hope for the human spirit. Thanks Brad.
PS...While we were busy getting ready for this event, Jon Viscott took it upon himself to design and put up a website for the DTS Charitable Foundation (www.DTSCF.org) entirely on his own volition, without charge. Thank you so much Jon, and please forgive me for being a little late with that thank you!