Concert Review: Boston, Paul Rodgers, The Greg Kihn Band
The Shoreline Amphitheater: Mountain View, California
Thursday, July 31, 2003 - Variety is the spice of life, they say, and this particular bill featured acts whose perspectives differ quite a bit from each other. Yet a common thread does bind them together. For instance, they obtained their greatest commercial success around the same time (the late seventies and early eighties) and are committed to a similar marriage of pop sheen and rock muscle. The concert was a reminder of an era when radio still honored uniqueness and bands were free to pursue their own muse.
Coming from the progressive rock school of pomp and circumstance, Boston hasn't changed a stitch since their self-titled debut album seduced the masses way back in 1976. Though only two originals (vocalist Brad Delp and guitarist Tom Scholz) remain in the fold, their approach hasn't been modified at all.
Even in this advanced age of digital miracles, Boston continues to sound amazingly futuristic. Their songs possess a computer-generated gloss, which favors technical prowess over raw emotion. For a while there, it seemed as if Emerson, Lake and Palmer suddenly emerged on stage, due to an elongated exhibition of masturbatory keyboard antics. But amid occasional bursts of flashy noodling, tunes like "More Than a Feeling," "Don't Look Back," "Party," and "Smokin'" were taut and melodic. The choruses were uniformly dynamic, and singer Fran Cosmo is certainly endowed with a sturdy packet of pipes that's perfectly suited for the stripe of music Boston plays.
It's always a pleasure to hear the soulful wail of Paul Rodgers, who performed key tracks from legendary bands he once fronted such as Free, Bad Company, and The Firm. Executed with gutsy sincerity, "Can't Get Enough," "Rock Steady," "All Right Now," "Feel Like Makin' Love," "Radioactive," "Shooting Star," and "Rock And Roll Fantasy" are just a mere mention of the goodies offered.
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Former Heart guitarist Howard Leese now plays in Paul's band, and there's no debate his tasty fretwork fits in well with the format. But the entire band cooked, spooling out crunchy blues-based licks boiling with blood, sweat and tears. A couple of Beatles covers ("Ticket to Ride" and "I Feel Fine") were also slipped into the show.
Boston and Paul Rodgers were indeed at the top of their game, but the real crown jewel of the lot was perhaps The Greg Kihn Band. Commencing the set with an invigorating recycling of The Only Ones' quirky punk flavored nugget, "Another Girl Another Planet," they immediately grabbed the audience's ears from the get go. The Greg Kihn Band proceeded to pluck a smattering of choice cuts from their albums, including "The Break Up Song (They Don't Write 'Em)," "Madison Avenue," the rather disco-dented "Jeopardy," and "Love Rock And Roll."
A head on collision between sixties British Invasion influenced fare and hard-edged power chording provides the band with a hook-conscious pop rock style that's impossible to shake. The wounded cries of "Can't Stop Hurtin' Myself" and the hypnotic shuffle of "Remember" stepped in as other priceless performances.
Greg's catchy vocals were at a premium, the guitars chimed and cackled with electricity and the harmonies were simply fetching. A frisky mood penetrated the show, sprinkled with silly remarks from Greg that were very entertaining.
The band further delighted the crowd with interpretations of Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" and The Yardbirds' stomping "I Ain't Got You." Because of its complex nature, not many bands have attempted to render "Strawberry Fields Forever," but these fellows turned in an admirable job. Despite the fact some of the psychedelic essence that papers the initial recording by The Beatles was absent, The Greg Kihn Band concluded their copy on a faithful note, complete with paralyzing rhythms spinning with kaleidoscopic hues.
They don't call it classic rock for nothing . . .
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