Tweeter Center, Tinley Park, IL
Friday, July 4, 2003
They opened their Independence Day Tweeter Center show with "The Star-Spangled Banner/4th of July Reprise" and closed it two-and-a-half hours later with a classic fan favorite in "Smokin'."
In between, Boston — with a powerful touring lineup of seven members — hit the mark with a holiday celebration of classic American rock more often than not, despite canceling the fireworks show scheduled for after the show.
At times, there were five guitars jamming at once, making for a blissful wall of Boston sound. Unfortunately, the experience was missed by most classic rock fans in the Chicago area; the Tweeter Center lawn was barely populated and the pavilion looked not much more than half full (in some sections there were more than a dozen rows empty).
Despite the weak attendance, lead singer Brad Delp gave a fine performance, proving he's lost none of the signature vocal range and depth that put Boston on the charts in the '70s with "More Than a Feeling," "Peace of Mind," "Don't Look Back" "Rock and Roll Band" and more, all of which the band played along with more recent hits "Amanda" and "Cool the Engines."
After the instrumental opener, the band showcased "I Had a Good Time," the best track from its latest and fifth studio album, "Corporate America." Then came "Rock and Roll Band" and a stage set and light show that made it feel like 1977 again.
At one point late in the show, a lighting rig designed to look like the back end of a rocket descended to hover just over the heads of bandleader Tom Scholtz, newcomer Kimberly Dahme and the rest of the band, before "blasting" back up into the stars.
Boston has increasingly used the talents of singer Fran Cosmo, over the past decade to fill in for Delp. The two proved a formidable harmonic force on all of the band's classic numbers. Delp proved he could still hit the high notes, but Cosmo gave him a break and filled in on some songs.
The audience sat down for much of the band's new "Corporate America" material, some of which was written by Cosmo's son, Anthony (who plays guitar for the band now). And many called for Dahme to "go back to Boston" when she sang a folksy acoustic song from the new album. It seemed completely incongruous with the rest of the band's material.
After losing many in the audience with the newer songs in mid-set, the band returned with an impressive performance of its "Walk On" suite — complete with extensive pipe organ solo, courtesy of a "Phantom of the Opera"-caped Scholtz.
While "More Than a Feeling" seemed to drag a little, "Party" and "Smokin'" closed out the show on an adrenaline rush. If Boston has lost some of its creative way, the band still knows how to rock live.