Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Boston and Cheap Trick at the Forum in Inglewood, California


When I saw that the Boston tour was making a stop at the Forum in Inglewood, California, I had to go see them. There were no pre-conceived notions that this would be a super-great show, but I had never seen the band before and Cheap Trick was opening up for them, which is always worth the price of admission. Plenty of people think the same way, as this turned out to be a sold out show at the nicely-renovated facility.

To be honest, I did not even know that Boston was still together, nor that they had recorded a new album and were touring again. They band has pressed on after Brad Delp took his own life, having found Tommy DeCarlo on the internet to take on the singing chores and keyboard work, and he is pretty darned good. Of course, founding member and guitarist Tom Scholz still brought it to the stage, and the rest of the band was made up of guitarist Gary Pihl, Tracy Ferrie on bass, Kimberly Dahme on rhythm guitar, and god only know who was behind the drum kit. On guest vocals was American Idol finalist Siobhan Magnus, who also happens to be the niece of Ferrie.

Boston tore out a nearly two-hour set with over 20 songs, and it was actually pretty good. There were a few songs from their new album, Life, Love & Hope, but they mostly gave the crowd what they were looking for, which was all of their good stuff from the 1970s and 1980s. I do not know anybody who bought their newest album, do you?

Right out of the gate they hit it hard, starting off with “Rock and Roll Band,” “Smokin’,” and “Feellin’ Satisfied.” Scholz still has his distinctive chops (can you believe he is 67?) and his harmonization with Pilz was classic Boston. The band was tight, the vocal harmonies were good and DeCarlo was in top form. I have no complaints about their musicianship or their stage show.

The show did drag on a bit, and the few songs they did from their new album were certifiable yawners, but they played almost everything from their got-to-have-it double album. Boston did not leave out their gems, including “Peace of Mind,” “It’s Been Such a Long Time,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Amanda,” “More Than a Feeling” and “Long Time.” This was fortunate and made up for the sometimes ponderous pace.

It turned out that Boston’s performance was actually worth the price of admission. So, Cheap Trick’s set was like icing on the cake. I have seen them quite a few times over the past 30 years as they performed with bands such as Night Ranger and Aerosmith, and they have never disappointed.

They have been doing the same act for so long that you would think they would tire of it, but they still bring plenty of energy to each show. Robin Zander sounded way better than he did last year with Aerosmith, and at 61 he is showing no signs of slowing down. Rick Nielsen is still a total goofball, and his guitar skills have not faded. Tom Petersson did a passable job on bass, though I wish he had left the solo out. And there was a surprise behind the drum kit as Bun E. Carlos has stomped off and is suing the band, so Nielsen’s son Daxx was on the skins, and it was immediately obvious that Carlos made a mistake. Daxx is a much better drummer, and Bun will not be missed. Hah!

Cheap Trick mostly focused on their hits during their one-hour set, and they really brought their A-game. They included crowd favorites such as “Ain’t that a Shame,” “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” and I Want you to Want Me.” Every new rock band that is hitting big should be required to see a Cheap Trick show, or better yet, have to take them on tour with them so they can teach them what a real rock show is all about.

So I have to call the evening a success. If you have the chance to see Boston, see them. If Cheap Trick is on the bill too, definitely go see them. Trust me!


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