Classic rock band Boston brought their time capsule of hits to the Casino Rama stage for a sold out performance this past Thursday evening. As is customary at Rama, there was no opening band. The only founding member of the touring band now is guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter, producer, Tom Scholz. That's one heck of a resume for an artist, but for Scholz, its business as it has always been. Right from the beginning he has had his hand in creating everything that is Boston. One of the biggest problems for Scholz these days is finding a suitable vocalist to fill the unfillable shoes of Brad Delp, who left a canyon in the band after his untimely death in 2007.
Boston's music is wonderfully layered with multipart harmonies throughout most of the songs. Scholz has put together a band where the vocalist duties are shared across a few very talented musicians. Tommy DeCarlo is the touring lead vocalist for many of Boston's tracks and has been since 2008, with a range very similar to Delp's. DeCarlo spent much of the evening high-fiving and signing LP covers for energetic fans pressed up against the stage.
Newest member of the band, guitarist and shared lead vocalist David Victor, also took the reigns with great success. When he wasn't posing and putting on the 80's rockstar guitar swagger, he was pulling vocalist duties on many of the band's hit songs, most notably "Amanda". Many people were moved by the music that night, but the couple slow dancing together in the front row of seats took that to a new level.
Nevertheless, all eyes and ears were firmly on the "star" of the show, Scholz. Much of Boston's iconic sound is generated by this one man. He was one of the pioneers in distortion box technology in the 70's, which is what gives his guitar that distinctive Boston sound. And he nailed that sound perfectly. The show began with "Rock & Roll Band" and "Smokin'," both from the band's 1976 smash hit, self-titled, debut album. "Smokin'" saw Scholz take to the keyboards in one of this writer's personal highlights of the night. The massive wall of retro Hammond B3 sound was compelling and screamed through the venue with a vengeance. Scholz gives his full being to a Boston show, and the crowd let him know they got it.
The band stepped through selections from all four Boston albums, but the loudest responses came during the songs from album one and two. Most of these tracks still are staples on rock radio rotations, and for good reason. The band buttered up the Canadian crowd with a full-length version of "Oh Canada." complete with iconic places and events true to Canada flashing across the full sized video wall behind the stage.
On-again off-again Boston drummer/vocalist, Curly Smith kept things on track, along with bassist Tracy Ferrie. Gary Pihl, guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist with the band since 1985, showed that he is pretty close second to Scholz musically, save for maybe all the songwriting and producing that Scholz has under his belt.
A good classic rock concert wouldn't be complete without a guitar/organ solo, and Scholz hammered one of those out in spades.
The main set ended with a spot-on version of "Foreplay/Long Time" and had the crowd on its feet. After a short break the band returned with "Used to Bad News" and a great showstopper, "Party". This was a stellar example of the kind of show a classic rock band should play after over 35 years in the business. It was a no-nonsense, nearly 2-hour romp through their record catalogue, with a heavy dose of hits.
1.Rock & Roll Band
4.Peace of Mind
5.Cool the Engines
7.Surrender to Me
8.Don't Look Back
9.Something About You
13.More Than a Feeling
14.Tom Scholz Solo
17.A New World
18.To Be a Man
19.Walk On Medley - Walkin' at Night/Walk On/Get Organ-ized/Walk On (Some More)
20.Foreplay / Long Time
21.Used To Bad News