By Chuck Cox
Allen Event Center was figuratively transformed into a time machine on Wednesday night, as the current incarnations of Boston and The Doobie Brothers hit the stage for an evening of nostalgia and mega hits.
I was seeing both bands for the first time, so I was really excited to hear so many iconic songs of my youth performed live. For the record, nobody stopped down the Doobie Brothers show by having a giant tape recorder fall out of his trench coat, a la Rerun on “What’s Happening!!”
No doubt, I got what I came to see and hear. And then some.
Headliner Boston, which played multiple Texxas Jams back in the 1970s at the Cotton Bowl, had an impressive stage show that featured a large video screen with footage from the perspective of a cockpit window of a spaceship. Lead singer Tommy DeCarlo was excellent, sounding incredibly close to original lead singer Brad Delp.
Early on, the band had strong pacing. Boston opened with “Rock and Roll Band,” “Smokin’,” and “Feelin’ Satisfied” before the obligatory two songs from the latest album, 2013’s Life, Love & Hope. But the band then treated the crowd to “Peace of Mind,” “Cool the Engines,” “Surrender to Me” and “Don’t Look Back.”
After Boston, which only has one original member in founder Tom Scholz, played two of its biggest hits, “Amanda” and “More than a Feeling,” I thought the set list took a sizable nosedive. That was mainly due to the triumvirate of “Walk On,” “Get Organ-ized” and “Walk On (Some More),” which seemed like they would never, ever end. Those three songs must have taken up close to 15 minutes of the show, and had me thinking about Derek Smalls’ free-form “Jazz Odyssey” in This is Spinal Tap.
Boston closed the main set list of its nearly two-hour show win “Foreplay/Long Time.” Another curious choice was to not save that song, or any other hit, for the encore, which consisted of “I Think I Like It” and “Party.” While not bad songs, they had a large part of the crowd headed for the exits to relieve the babysitters.
However, the band sounded great and definitely gave the crowd its money’s worth. It’s still hard to believe that after the debut album of all debut albums, the eponymous Boston, was followed up by just three more albums up until 2002.
The Doobie Brothers, who played for about 75 minutes, also sounded fantastic. Like Boston, it was an eight-piece band, but featured two original members in guitarists Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, and the always-odd two drummers.
It was mostly a hit fest right from the start, beginning with “Jesus is Just Alright.” Hearing “Taking it to the Streets,” “Black Water,” “Long Train Runnin'” and encore songs “China Grove” and “Listen to the Music” was really cool. The crowd was also really into the show, which always makes it a better time. Like Boston, the Doobies had great energy.
Simmons’ son, Patrick Simmons, Jr., opened the show with a brief 15-minute set that, unfortunately, went largely ignored by the still-arriving crowd.
Make sure to keep checking back this week. This was the first of four shows in four nights for me.