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Concert Review & Photos - Boston

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1976 was undoubtedly one of the most important years in rock and roll history.  The Billboard charts were packed with hits from well-established artists such as Abba, Queen, and Chicago while lesser known bands such as Heart, The Ramones, and Blondie were just beginning to make a name for themselves on the music scene.  It was during that time that MIT Graduate Tom Scholz was putting the finishing touches on his band’s debut album, Boston.  Released on August 25, 1976, Boston’s self-titled album skyrocketed to the top of the charts and became an instant classic. In fact, Boston is one of the best-selling debut albums of all-time with 17 million copies sold in the US alone.  Remarkably, they are 2nd only to Guns N’ Roses 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction (which sold 18 million copies sold in the US). Pretty amazing for a record released nearly 40 years ago!

On Saturday, July 16th, Boston celebrated their 40-year anniversary with family and friends at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, CA.  For those who have never attended a Boston show, it truly is a “bucket-list” type of experience not to be missed. Fans from all over the country traveled thousands of miles to be part of magic, and Saturday’s sold-out performance was no exception.  The capacity crowd was one of the most diverse I have ever seen at a live show, as people from all backgrounds and walks of live converged together to celebrate one of the most iconic bands on the planet.  What was even more special was seeing all of the families with multiple generations of Boston fans attending the show together. Seeing Mom’s and Dad’s rocking out with their Children and Grandchildren was a truly a highlight for me Saturday evening.

As the sun began to set in Orange County, the anticipation for the start of show was at an all-time high.  The capacity crowd was going crazy, and fans of all ages got out of their seats and began the all-too familiar chant, “Boston…, Boston…, Boston…”  Lights began to dim, and from out of nowhere appears Tom Scholz with his signature Les Paul guitar.  He smiles, graciously waves to the crowd, and kicks off the show with a tight guitar intro followed immediately by the instrumental, Star-Spangled Banner. As patriotic graphics captivated the crowd on large LCD screens, the remaining members of Boston joined Tom onstage - including Gary Pihl on Guitar, Jeff Neal on Drums, Tracy Ferrie on Bass, and Beth Cohen on Keyboards.  As the song came to an end, Tommy DeCarlo finally took the stage and launched into a beloved Boston classic, Rock n’ Roll Band.  Based on the amazing start to this show, you could tell this was going to be a truly special night.

Over the next two hours, Tom Scholz and company delivered to its legions of followers a breathtaking performance which many in attendance described as “one of the best live shows I have seen in years!”  Fans were treated to 22 of Boston’s standards including 1976 classics More Than a Feeling, Long Time, and Peace of Mind. Vocals from both DeCarlo and Cohen were spot-on, and each seemed to only get better as the evening rolled along.  In addition, musical performances by Pihl, Neal, and Ferrie were truly inspiring. Each of these musicians were able to bring the magic of Boston to life with their near-flawless performances.  After a brief break in the action, Boston returned to the stage for a two song encore consisting of Used to Bad News and Party off of the 1978 album, Don’t Look Back.  The overall setlist was spectacular, and Boston could not have ended the the show on a higher note.

As the house lights came back on and thousands of fans began streaming towards the exits, I took a moment to reflect upon the show I just witnessed.  Having no reference point (as this was my first Boston concert), I entered the show with a bit of skepticism knowing that there have been so many changes to this iconic band over the years.  Sure, I loved their music, but how would Boston hold up on stage after all this time? Well, after 2+ hours (and 22 classic songs), I can unequivocally say Boston has not lost a single step over the past 40 years.  Sure, the band’s makeup has changed a bit over the years (as most bands with this type of longevity do).  However, Boston’s true heart and soul, Tom Scholz, has always remained intact.  Tom has been with the band since the beginning and has always found a way to surround himself with brilliant musicians who truly understand what Boston is (and more importantly what is not).  It is through his love and dedication that Boston lives on today.  Thank you Tom for over 40 years of amazing music.  You are an inspiration to us all!

For more information on Boston and their 40th Anniversary Tour, please click HERE.

Stay Frosty and Rock On!

Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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