Boston Takes Flight From the VUHL Amphitheater Stage
Adam Flores | Senior Writer
The Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater became the Cape Canaveral launch pad Thursday evening.
Legendary rock band Boston lifted off taking an enthusiastic crowd into an intergalactic two hour set of the group’s four decades of classic and newer songs. The live set was a sonic and visual experience to behold, a high expectation the band has set as their standard within the realm of arena rock.
Dubbed as the 2017 Hyper Space Tour, Boston covered a wide range of material spanning from their 1976 self-titled debut through 2013’s “Life, Love & Hope,” their latest studio release.
Guitarist, keyboardist, backing vocalist and songwriter Tom Scholz remains as the only original and founding member of Boston. The group has seen numerous personnel changes over the decades. The current roster accompanying Scholz onstage included: Tracy Ferrie (bass guitar, backing vocals); Jeff Neal (drums, percussion, backing vocals); Tommy DeCarlo (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion); Beth Cohen (keyboards, vocals, rhythm guitar) and Gary Pihl (rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals).
Strategically placed in the song lineup were classic hits from their eponymous debut album that continually gets radio play to this day. Tracks such as “Smokin,’” with its deliberate, hyper-boogie drive and the ethereal rock anthems “Piece of Mind” and “More Than a Feeling,” had fans on their feet singing along with frontman DeCarlo and Boston’s superbly executed and interspersed four-part background vocal harmonies.
Other performances of material such as “Don’t Look Back,” “Amanda,” “Cool the Engines” and “Heaven on Earth” helped propel the power set and confirm why Boston’s legacy and success continue to this day. Their debut album alone has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Opening song “Rock & Roll Band” set the tone with its straight-ahead rock edge and classic guitar sound. Scholz, who received a bachelor’s (1969) and master’s degree (1970) in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and who was once senior product design engineer for the Polaroid Corporation, is the mastermind and audio engineer of the renowned Boston sound in the studio and onstage.
In the early ‘80s, Scholz also started his own line of guitar effects and audio processors under the Rockman moniker. The devices allowed musicians to capture the true Boston sound in their own creativity and production.
While some may consider it the end of an era in massive stadium and arena rock productions in lieu of smaller, intimate venues, Boston’s stage setup was reminiscent of the Mother computer of 1979’s “Alien.” As sound and digital technologies progress, gone for the most part are the massive equipment setups most arena rock bands flaunted.
The back part of Boston’s sonic setup, however, was filled stage left to right with numerous speaker cabinets and various racks of effects processors and gear wired in true analog fashion. Light indicators from the massive rig setup also resembled the countless lights of an evening city skyline.
Enhancing the visual appeal of Boston’s mothership was strategically placed stage lighting. A massive video display screen in the backdrop presented many visual effects and film/video clips, further accompanying and boosting each song’s theme.
Preceding Boston was infamous longtime rock music act, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Jett provided another trip back in time for fans with an updated rendition of The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb,” the Tommy James & the Shondells cover of “Crimson & Clover,” the anthemic “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and most notably, The Arrows’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Boston proved a daring audio and visual feat for its fans, harnessing the power and intensity along with the delivery of their material within the arena rock spectrum. Scholz and company revitalize the classic, old-school rock era of not just superb musicianship and timeless songs in a live setting, but also resurrect and reintroduce vintage sound design and equipment for the best live music experience possible, today.
The band continues its North American summer trek through the end of this month landing in Bristow, Virginia, on July 30.