By Christopher John Treacy
Boston Herald

It was a night of overcoming handicaps.

The big question about Boston’s summer tour is how the FM favorites would get by without late vocalist Brad Delp. And while there’s certainly no replacing him, it seems the current lineup is doing just fine.

Despite Sunday night’s gig at the Comcast Center in Mansfield being the group’s homecoming show, a rash of recent and soon-to-come big-name events in town stole some of the group’s thunder: Boston only nearly filled the covered portion of the venue, leaving the lawn barren.

But for those in attendance, it was time and money well-spent. True, a valid argument could be made that watching Boston perform now feels like seeing a cover band - but with founder Tom Scholz on board, this is as real as it’s going to get. Don’t like it? You don’t have to come. And the truth is, you’d be missing a fun show.

After an instrumental rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for openers, Scholz and company kicked into “I Had a Good Time” from 2002’s “Corporate America,” then dusted off the trusty “Peace of Mind.”

Albeit a little stiff-seeming, longtime fan and Home Depot recruit Tommy DeCarlo did a phenomenal job on vocals, consistently nailing the money notes and conjuring an uncanny likeness to Delp’s overall style and tone.

In particular, “Feelin’ Satisfied” and “Don’t Look Back” soared skyward with thick, rich, six-part harmonies buoyed by five-string bassist Kimberly Dahme, drummer Jeff Neal and longtime guitarist Gary Pihl pitching in on the choruses.

Stryper frontman Michael Sweet also turned in an impressive performance. Sweet served up powerful lead vocals on two tunes from 1986’s “Third Stage”: “Amanda” and “To Be a Man,” the latter dedicated to Delp. With Scholz, Sweet and Pihl on the front line, the guitar work was nimble-fingered and top-notch throughout. Sweet also did vocal justice to “Foreplay/Long Time,” with Scholz wailing along on the organ, which he also played during the encore, “Smokin’,” a barroom natural.

Boston overcame its handicap rather miraculously, but Styx didn’t fare quite as well: Tommy Shaw’s laryngitis cost them, particularly on a wretched “Too Much Time On My Hands.”

Instrumentally, Styx sounded tight. Original member/bassist Chuck Panozzo turned up to add extra bottom end, and dueling axe men Shaw and James Young worked up a near-deafening lather. Keyboard wizard Lawrence Gowan killed on lead vocals for “Lady” and “Come Sail Away,” though he really ought to lose the silly revolving synth platform.

BOSTON, with STYX at the Comcast Center, Mansfield, Sunday night.