Boston, with Blue Oyster Cult & Shooting Star

Boston, with Blue Oyster Cult & Shooting Star
Intrust Arena
Wichita, Kansas
August 9, 2015

By Jeb Wright

A triple shot of rock ‘n’ roll rolled into the Midwest on a Sunday night leaving the Kansas town of Wichita energized, thanks to three great musical sets. On the bill this even were Kansas City’s finest Shooting Star, the incredible Blue Oyster Cult and one of rock’s all-time best… Boston!

Shooting Star Set List
Medley: Touch Me Tonight/ Are You On My Side/ Summer Sun/ Flesh and Blood/ Bring it On | This is our Town | Tonight | Breakout | Hang On for Your Life | Last Chance

Shooting Star opened the evening early, actually a half an hour before the starting time on the tickets!  Led by founding member Van McLain, the band kicked off the night’s festivities with a five song medley.  “Touch Me Tonight” is a classic from 1989 that saw the song named Video of the Week on MTV!  The song transformed into “Are You On My Side” from the band’s 1982 sophomore album Hang On For Your Life.  “Summer Sun,” a fan favorite from 1985’s Silent Scream was next before morphing into Hang On For Your Life’s single “Flesh and Blood.”  The medley concluded with the rockin’ “Bring It On” from Shooting Star’s 1980 debut album.

The band in 2015 consists of McLain on guitar and vocals, original drummer Steve Thomas, long-time keyboardist Dennis Laffoon and newcomer Todd Pettygrove.  Shooting Star has recently released (and is allowing fans to download for free) a new album titled Into the Night.  Fans can download the album here:!into-the-night/c2171.  Just click over and enter the code 1980 and start rocking!  The band trotted out one tune off the album that is sure to be a fan favorite.  “This is our Town” rocks hard, and if you’re a fan of the NFL, then expect to hear this one on the radio supporting The Kansas City Chiefs later this year!

Shooting Star played perhaps their four best songs to end their short set. “Tonight” is a rocking tune, as is “Breakout.”  “Hang On For Your Life” is a straight-ahead rocker, while the set-ending “Last Chance” is a classic tune in the Midwest and the finest shining moment for this band.  On this night it went down loud and proud and drew the biggest applause in Shooting Star’s set. 

Blue Oyster Cult Set List
The Red & the Black | Golden Age of Leather |Burnin' for You | Harvester of Eyes | ME 262 | Buck's Boogie |Then Came the Last Days of May | Godzilla |(Don't Fear) The Reaper

Next up was hard rock icons Blue Oyster Cult.  The band still features two original members in guitarist and vocalist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Eric Bloom.   Joining the two rock stars are guitarist extraordinaire and part time keyboardist Richie Castellano, drummer Jules Radino and the amazing Kasim Sulton on bass guitar and backing vocals. 

BOC played only nine songs but they took their time as they jammed and rocked and then jammed some more!  This was a guitar fueled set that featured scorching lead playing from both Castellano and Roeser!  Guitar nerds in the crowd were treated to elongated versions of the classic “Buck’s Boogie” and “Then Came the Last Days of May,” the latter switching between subdued elegance and raw power. 

All of those watching this musical onslaught were impressed and welcomed the guitar heroics, even though most were just waiting for the big three tunes, “Burning for You,” which came out early in the set, and set closers “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”  These tunes also featured extra licks and solos and got the crowd on their feet for the first time of the evening!  It should be noted that the rhythm section of Radino and Sulton bring a solid backdrop to this already great band.  Sulton also brings strong harmonies with his vocals.  Bloom is not only singing well, but he is a great front man, smiling and having fun while getting the crowd to sing along to the classic “Golden Age of Leather,” which, by the way, was rocked up and a great addition to the set list!  The only negative thing to say about tonight’s performance is that it was not long enough!

Boston Set List
Rock & Roll Band | Smokin' | Feelin' Satisfied | Life, Love & Hope | Peace of Mind | Cool the Engines | Surrender | Don't Look Back | Something About You | Amanda | We're Ready |The Launch | More Than a Feeling | Instrumental | I Need Your Love | |Walk On |Get Organ-ized | Walk On (Some More) | Foreplay / Long Time

Don't Be Afraid | Party

The final band of the evening, Boston, put on a show that was amazing. The band was solid back in 1976, but now with all this new technology they are sonically and visually stunning. Seriously, Boston is such a good live band in 2015 that it is scary!  The tunes are pumped out in succession, the band members are smiling, rocking out and into every beat as it if was the last one they will ever play!  This is a band on a mission to bring their music to the masses the best way they know how, which it to play them loud and often… and with precision.

Boston mastermind Tom Scholz leads the group of musicians through a timeless evening of music, and all in attendance, both young and old, were on their feet from the opening note of “Rock & Roll Band” to the final drumbeat of “Party.”  The band was, to use a well-worn and oft overused cliché, on fire!

How many bands can open a concert with three songs as upbeat, positive and powerful as “Rock & Roll Band,” “Smokin’” and “Feelin’ Satisfied”?  The tunes were knocked out, one after another barely allowing the already enthusiastic crowd to catch their breath!

Scholz has made a good living off of the first two Boston albums . The reason is simple.  Not only are these classic songs, tunes that make one feel good, they are songs that are special for making their way into the human psyche.  Boston’s older songs are representative of an era of great music, however, since the band has such a unique sound and approach, Scholz’s songs have a timelessness to them that can’t be ignored.  People of all ages relate to both the message and music.  On this night, the tunes that were the most appreciated by the masses were the aforementioned as well as “Peace of Mind,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Something About You,” “More Than a Feeling,” “Foreplay/Long Time” and “Party.”  Sure, these songs are nostalgic to many in the audience, but the effect these compositions have run much deeper than that.  These songs represent basic human emotions and tap into a basic need to express oneself, believe in oneself and to celebrate life instead of simply living it.  This is the true Tom Scholz magic! 

The band, of course, struck platinum as well with their third album, Third Stage in 1986.  Tonight that album was very well represented by “Cool the Engines,” “We’re Ready” and “Amanda.”  The title track to 1994’s Walk On was a lesson is musicality as the band jammed so much one thought they might never end—not that anyone minded!  “I Need Your Love” from Walk On was a surprise tune as well.  Boston also performed new tune “Live, Love & Hope,” which was well received. 

Boston trotted out a tune that is too often overlooked from their fabulous sophomore effort Don’t Look Back from 1978, titled “Don’t Be Afraid.”  Having this song as the first in the encore was a smart choice as it really showcases what a great song it is.  The band closed the show with “Party” and then sent everyone away with huge smiles on their faces.

Boston not only played great, they looked great and sounded amazing.  The band consists of the down and dirty rhythm section of Tracy Ferrie on bass and Jeff Neal on drums.  These guys are not just good… they are great!  They allow the entire band the freedom to go forward with the utmost confidence that everything behind them will be perfect.  This confidence can’t help but come across in a live performance and the two men are to be commended on their musicianship.  Vocalist Tommy DeCarlo has grown by leaps and bounds since being plucked off YouTube a few years ago.  He is developing into a strong front man and his vocal skills are apparent.  He gets a bit of help with a strong backing vocalist crew on the super high Brad Delp moments, but this sucker is 98% him these days. 

Beth Cohen is new to the Boston family but if she plays her cards right she may  be around for a long time.  She is physically beautiful and her vocal skills make her a true virtuoso.  Guitarist Gary Pihl has been with the band since he lost his day job as Sammy Hagar’s lead guitar player when the Red Rocker joined Van Halen.  It worked out for Gary, as he joined Boston for Third Stage and has not looked back.  He is Tom Scholz’s right hand man, partner on a hammer-on guitar soloing spot on stage during the concert, and a valued and important member of the Boston family. Gary quietly -and with class- fulfills a huge role in the band in 2015.

That just leaves the maestro, Tom Scholz.  Another simple cliché will be used here… Tom is like fine wine, he’s getting better with age.  He has taken his musical vision which he was able to record on vinyl and transform it to the stage in a way that must be seen and heard to be appreciated.  This music, his music, has become our music… and it obviously means something to him. Tom is impassioned to do it right.  He leads by example, giving it all away every night on stage.  Scholz has surrounded himself not only with excellent musicians but also with good people.  The result is a band that treads the boundaries of pleasure and business.  They have fun being a rock and roll band but they also are well aware that they have a job to do.  On this night in Wichita, Kansas, they did it to the best of their ability.   

Just another band out of Boston?  I don’t think so!  This band is amazing!!into-the-night/c2171