It’s sometimes hard to believe that it’s been nearly forty years since classic rock juggernaut Boston exploded onto the national stage with their eponymous debut album. It was a guitar-heavy record that threw the pablum of disco acts off the charts and went on to become one of the best-selling debuts of all time. Combining blues-infused rock with powerful musicianship and the modern technology that founding guitarist Tom Scholz had acquired from his days at MIT, Boston’s first three albums – Boston, Don’t Look Back and Third Stage, made them one of the biggest bands of the 70s and 80s.
So when Boston arrived at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA last night, the capacity crowd was eager for a return to those days of old – and this 21st century version of the band, which features Scholz along with Gary Pihl (guitar), Tommy DeCarlo (vocals), Tracy Ferrie (bass), Jeff Neal (drums) and Beth Cohen (guitars/keyboards/vocals) proved they were capable of delivering the goods.
Taking the stage to the infectious opening guitar riff of the apropos “Rock & Roll Band”, Scholz ushered in a blistering two-hour set of classic rock goodness. The band performed hits like “Smokin’”, “Feelin’ Satisfied” and “Peace of Mind” early in the set while also mixing in a new track “Life, Love & Hope”, from their recently released album of the same name.
Although late singer Brad Delp had set the bar high in terms of Boston’s vocal ability, singer Tommy DeCarlo proved he was more up to the challenge of handling nearly all of the lead vocal duties. The fiery Beth Cohen also sang on a pair of songs in addition to alternating between keyboards and guitar.
Boston’s Third Stage album from 1986 was also equally represented in the set, with tracks like “Cool The Engines,” “We’re Ready” and “Amanda” ringing true both musically and vocally. This was also the album that introduced guitarist Gary Pihl, who had previously done work with Sammy Hagar. Pihl’s masterful harmony guitar licks complemented Scholz all night. Making the signature Boston two-guitar attack sound nearly identical to the records.
Tracks like “More Than A Feeling” and “Foreplay/Longtime” drew the biggest crowd reaction of the night and rightly so. The former was the song that first introduced Boston to a generation of music lovers while the latter (also a huge hit) had the crowd on its feet clapping along.
One of the real gems of the evening for longtime fans had to be the song, “Surrender To Me”, taken from the group’s 1994 album, Walk On. A surprise in the fact that not only was it a deep album cut but it also sounded insanely good.
To some Scholz and crew may be just another band out of Boston, but as far as the multi-generational crowd was concerned there was no doubt they left Bethlehem feelin’ satisfied.
Boston Set List (Bethlehem, PA)
Rock & Roll Band
Life, Love & Hope
Peace of Mind
Long Time Segue
Cool The Engines
Surrender To Me
Don’t Look Back
Something About You
More Than a Feeling
I Need Your Love
Walkin’ At Night
Walk On (Some More)
Hitch A Ride
Foreplay / Longtime
Don’t Be Afraid