By Brian Aberback
WHO: Boston and Cheap Trick.
IN TOWN: 7 p.m. Sunday, PNC Bank Arts Center, Garden State Parkway, exit 116, Holmdel; 732-203-2500 or livenation.com. $25.50 to $81.50.
ALSO PERFORMING: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, N.Y.; 516-221-1000 or livenation.com. $37.50 to $82.50.
MORE INFO: bandboston.com.
Boston vocalist Tommy DeCarlo has sung the band's hits for the past seven years. Now, fans have the chance to hear the energetic singer perform new material. "I love singing the classics, but to sing on something new is very special," DeCarlo said by phone. "It's an amazing experience being part of a Boston record."
Boston's first album with DeCarlo, "Life, Love & Hope," was issued in December. The band performs on Sunday in Holmdel and Tuesday at Jones Beach.
DeCarlo sings on four tracks on "Life, Love & Hope": the title track, "Someday," "The Way You Look Tonight" and a rerecording of the 2002 song "You Gave Up on Love." The album, Boston's sixth overall and first in 11 years, also features vocal contributions from bandleader-guitarist-producer Tom Scholz, David Victor, Kimberley Dahme and the band's original singer, the late Brad Delp.
Longtime Boston guitarist Gary Pihl had high praise for DeCarlo's work on disc and in concert. "Tommy brings a great voice and charisma to the studio and stage," Pihl said in a separate interview. "He's such a down-to-earth guy that he really delivers our songs with heartfelt conviction."
Pihl said "Life, Love & Hope" explores new musical territory while retaining the signature Boston sound based around Scholz's layering of guitar and vocal harmonies. "All the great guitar and keyboard riffs are there and the lead singers bring an incredible range of emotion and power to the stories these songs tell," he said.
Though they never met, DeCarlo said he feels a kinship with Delp, who committed suicide in 2007. He said he started singing at age 12 after hearing Boston and being drawn to Delp's mellifluous, dynamic vocal range. "To this day he is the best singer I've ever heard," DeCarlo said.
DeCarlo's first professional performance came before 5,000 fans at a Boston tribute show for Delp in 2007. Scholz invited DeCarlo to participate after hearing the latter's rendition of the Boston song, "Don't Look Back," on the Internet. DeCarlo, whose previous live experience was limited to bowling alley karaoke, was asked to tour with Boston soon after the tribute concert.
"The fact that he had never been in a band before Boston is amazing," Pihl said. "He's been a real pro right out of the gate."
Boston began to take root when Scholz, an MIT graduate and Polaroid engineer, began recording demos in his home studio in the early 1970s. After numerous rejections, a tape including an early version of the all-time classic rock anthem, "More Than a Feeling," got Scholz and Delp a record deal. Scholz settled on the band name Boston, the band's home city, at the suggestion of a friend.
In 1976 Boston released its self-titled debut album. In addition to "More Than a Feeling," the record included classic rock staples "Peace of Mind," "Rock & Roll Band" and "Foreplay/Long Time." The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. "Boston" has sold more than 17 million copies and was the highest-selling debut album of the pop era until being surpassed by Whitney Houston's first album in 1985.
Boston's 1978 sophomore effort, "Don't Look Back," topped the Billboard albums chart. Highlights included the title track, "A Man I'll Never Be" and "Feelin' Satisfied." Due to Scholz's extremely meticulous approach to writing and recording, eight years passed before the release of "Third Stage" in 1986. The record and its lead single, "Amanda," both hit No. 1. Boston released "Walk On" in 1994 and "Corporate America" in 2002.
In addition to penning rock classics, Scholz is an innovator in the technology world. In the early 1980s he designed the innovative Rockman headphone amplifier. He has also developed much of the band's equipment.
"I don't think any other band plays amps that they designed and built," Pihl said.