By: Wayne Parry
Boston "Life, Love & Hope" (Frontiers)
Give Tom Scholz credit for knowing one of the core tenets of business success: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
On Boston's first album in 11 years, and the first since the tragic death of legendary vocalist Brad Delp in 2007, the band sticks with its tried-and-true sound, one that has come to nearly define the classic rock genre.
From the first time the world heard "More Than a Feeling" in the 1970s, Boston burned its way into rock's DNA with an identifiable sound: layer upon layer of angry guitars, harmonic solos and angelic vocals backing Delp, who could hit notes only dogs could hear.
There's an unreleased Delp track here, "Sail Away," about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and it's the only one of the three Delp tracks on this album that's new. Two others -- "Someone" and "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love" appeared on the band's "Corporate America" album, but Scholz was never really happy with them and has rebuilt them from top to bottom while keeping the original Delp vocals.
Other songs don't fare as well, including "If You Were in Love" with Kimberley Dahme's nothing-special vocals.
"Heaven on Earth," with David Victor singing lead could be a hit single -- that is, if all the Boston fans who were "Smokin'" in the '70s remain loyal to a group who helped define what rock 'n' roll sounded like for many years.
By: Chuck Eddy
Five songs on Boston's first album in more than a decade have "love" in their titles; three revise songs from its predecessor, Corporate America. That album came out in 2002, five years before Brad Delp committed suicide. His singing survives on a few tracks here, surrounded by other reassuring voices, male and female. "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love" keeps "More Than a Feeling" chords alive, too; "Sail Away," inspired by Hurricane Katrina, moves from trip-hop to prog-metal. Everywhere, Tom Scholz fine-tunes the angelic-choir harmonies and aerosol-guitar crescendos until they're spotlessly, unmistakably Bostonlike. Some things never change -- but remembering a sound isn't always enough.
By Scott Mervis
Even as Tommy DeCarlo was singing "Don't Look Back," that's exactly what Boston was doing.
What else is a '70s band to do?
The group could have gone heavy on the latest album, its first in 11 years, but that would have been the quickest way to lose the crowd Tuesday night at Stage AE. Boston offered the title track from "Life, Love and Hope" and the instrumental "Last Day of School" in a crowd-pleasing set that clung to the classic material.
And can they ever play it. Under the helm of production/guitar whiz and noted perfectionist Tom Scholz, Boston reproduces its challenging studio material to the note. That requires a good deal of jaw-dropping synchronized guitar work between Mr. Scholz and Gary Pihl, who joined Boston in the mid-'80s after having worked with Sammy Hagar.
By Scott W. Coleman
Hill Country News
If you're a fan of pure rock-n-roll, Sunday night's Boston / Night Ranger show would have been a great place to be.
In stark contrast to the pyrotechnically-heavy Mötley Crüe show just five days prior, the stage for Boston seemed almost bare. But, where the Crüe and even Alice Cooper relied heavily on theatrics for their show, Boston and Night Ranger chose to let the music speak for itself.
Night Ranger pushed out a number of radio-friendly rock hits in the 80s, none bigger than "Sister Christian," a ballad taken up by high school teachers and churches as a warning sign to young women that still became the single biggest hit at proms across the country in 1984-85.
Night Ranger guitarists Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra are a tandem to be reckoned with, though, and the pair dueled back and forth with solos, moving across the stage to smile gratefully at the audience members who sang along with nearly every song. Bass player and vocalist Jack Blades, one of the founding members of rock supergroup Damn Yankees, got the audience to their feet with that group's hits, "High Enough" and "Coming of Age."
However, the night belonged to that ‘band out of Boston' led by musical genius Tom Scholz, whose laid back stage presence communicated clearly that with Boston, it's all about the music.
Written by Marc Farr
Classic rock doesn't get much better than this lineup. The Doobie Brothers opened the night in great form, fine-tuned and tight. Starting their set with "Jesus Is Just Alright," they played hit after classic hit, including "Rockin' Down the Highway" and "Takin' It to the Streets." The summer soundtrack fell upon the eager ears of the young and the Baby Boomers both. Many a fan were on their feet, hands a-clappin'. Favorites like "Black Water" and "China Grove "came off with precision and nostalgia. Then it was on to their latest material from World Gone Crazy, and the title track thereof. As the Doobie Brothers closed their set with "Listen to the Music," the crowd rose to their feet. You may call them dinosaurs, but these guys won't be making oil anytime soon; they are still too busy "Rockin' Down the Highway."
After a brief intermission, the ever-popular Boston took the stage. What followed was a set featuring the view from inside the Boston Spaceship, which was flying near a nebula, among other places. Touring in support of their latest album, Life, Love and Hope, they rallied through the title track, as well as "The Last Day of School." Founding member Tom Scholz and singer Tommy DeCarlo were in great harmony as they blazed into "Rock and Roll Band." Although the band is known for Schultz's harmony-friendly compositions, this sound can be difficult to pull off live.
After continuing to please the crowd with such favorites as "Smokin," "Don't Look Back," "Amanda," "Peace of Mind," and many more hits, Boston left the crowd fully satisfied by its song selection. Boston are old pros, and their violin-sounding guitars shone through brightly—although it took three live guitarists to deliver. Boston's seven members were riding high Friday night, proficiency ever apparent.
Sometimes, in order to enjoy the future, one must look back, and we did just that on Friday night. What we got in return was a great, nostalgic show, an enjoyable time, indeed.