Monday, June 06, 2016

Concert Review: Boston / Blue Oyster Cult / Gary Hoey

Last Friday night (June 3) was concert night!  We saw Boston / Blue Oyster Cult / Gary Hoey at the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO.  So…  I thought I’d write a review:

The venue:
Well, I’ve been to 3 shows at the Family Arena (, and it is what it is.  A multipurpose arena, with capacity around 10k people.  Home to indoor football, MMA, and Concerts.  It isn’t exactly pretty, but it serves the purpose.  My biggest gripe is that it is 40-45 minutes from where we live, on the other side of St. Louis.  If it were closer, we would probably go more often.  We had floor seats, just off the right side aisle, 15 rows back.  Nice!

Opening Act:  Gary Hoey
 I feel like I’m pretty well versed on rock music, but I’d never heard of Gary Hoey.  But in fairness, his big hit (a cover of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus) was in 1993.  Anyway, he’s a guitar virtuoso, the ad claimed “one of the top 100 guitarists of all time”.  So I had high hopes.  Well, showtime comes, and he announces his backing band missed their flight connection, and that he would be playing along with his iPhone.  Awkward.  Then he seemed to compensate by turning the tracks absurdly loud.  And then cranking his guitar louder still.  And then turning both up a couple of times through the set.  He’s certainly good, but it really wasn’t an enjoyable experience.  OTOH, it can’t be easy playing to 6,000 people with an iPhone for backing.  Not terrible...  but....

Support Act:  BlueOyster Cult

(picture credit:  M.S.Lawhead)

Truth be told, I was more excited about BOC than Boston.  I’m a big fan.  Saw them twice in the late 70’s and they were great.  But it’s always a little worrisome when you go see a band that’s been touring for 45 years or so, with lots of turnover….  Only Eric Bloom (71 years old) and Buck Dharma (68 years old) remain from the original band, but they’re the frontmen, so I was pretty comfortable.  And after checking some youtube videos, I was convinced it would be good.  And it was excellent.  Starting with a reasonable volume, with clear, balanced sound.  A nice varied set, with songs focused on their 1973 through 1981 catalog.  They seems to be having fun, with Eric Bloom even pretending to play cowbell on "Don't Fear The Reaper", like the SNL skit.  My only gripe:  as a support act, they cut their recent setlist significantly, playing 45 minutes with no encore.  

Headliner:  Boston

My previously noted excitement about BOC should not be interpreted as ambivalence over Boston.  Especially as I never saw Boston in their prime.  They were supposed to be warm up band when I saw the Doobie Brothers back in November 1976 (just 3 months after their first album was released).  But apparently their equipment truck broke down (at least that’s what was announced) and they didn’t play.  So, this would be a “make up” session.  There was the same worry I had w/ BOC; a band that’s been around 40 years, with lots of turnover.  In fact, Tom Schotz is the only original member left, and he’s 69 years old.  On the other hand, he was always the key guy.  But original singer Brad Delp had died in 2007, so that was a concern.  But, again, after checking some youtube videos, I was convinced it would be good.  And again, it was.  They had a "big" show, lots of lights, videos, but also good energy.  They played most of their first album (excepting “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” and “Hitch A Ride”), which makes sense, as this is the 40th Anniversary summer.  They did play one new song, from a pending album, which led to one awkward moment:  Guitarist Gary Pihl asked the crowd if we’d like to hear a new song (polite applause) or something from their first album (deafening cheer)…  They did both, of course.

All in all, it was a great time.  Good music, good times with family….  

Next stop on the concert list will be a different tone:  Al Stewart and Gary Wright at the Wildey Theatre.  Look for a review!

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