Boston Strong: “One Of The Greatest Families On The Planet!”
To say there was massive interest in the concert thrown to benefit The One Fund Boston would be an understatement. When the show went on sale just under a month ago, tickets were gone in less than 5 minutes. Demand for the show was so high, that concert promoters set up a live video stream that went out to broadcast outlets, hoping that those countless thousands who didn’t make it into the four walls of the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night would watch the charity performance on their computers.
If social media is any testament, hundreds of thousands tried, but the internet video stream collapsed under the demand of a worldwide audience trying to take part in the Boston Strong concert. The live video remained un-watchable for a good portion of the internet audience for upwards of two hours.
“Nearly half a million people logged on to view the beginning of the show which lead to bandwidth related issues,” a statement from concert promoter Live Nation read in part. “We are happy to report these issues have been resolved,” said the statement sent to media outlets nearly three hours after the concert was set to begin.
While the rest of the world dealt with blips and buffering, those 15,000+ who were lucky enough to grab a seat in the TD Garden on Thursday night, watched the city’s namesake band Boston kick off the night to a packed and cheering arena.
Boston started the music with a nice rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, followed by “Rock and Roll Band”, “Smokin'”, and what else but “More Than a Feeling”. They closed out with a pleasantly surprising choice for such a short set time, “Foreplay/Long time”.
“Tonight, we are all Boston!” said Boston lead singer Tommy DeCarlo.
“We were stuck with our wife and kids! 20 more minutes we would’ve started killing each other!” he exclaimed to a crowd of laughter.
What felt like the entire building sang along to Extreme’s “More Than Words”, a massive early ’90s hit for the band. One of the night’s most anticipated highlights certainly didn’t disappoint.
Steve Sweeney, another Boston-born comic, mostly joked about the city itself and how it relates to other places and its people. Lot of accent jokes, and not just about Boston accents.
Boston’s own J. Geils Band was one of the night’s top performances. Boasting a full band with a complete brass section and backup singers, Peter Wolf & Co. roared through a set of classic favorites like “Love Stinks” and harmonica-infused instrumental favorite “Whammer Jammer”.
Peter Wolf darted back and forth across the stage like he’d found the fountain of youth. When the familiar organ riff of “Freeze Frame” kicked in, the crowd whipped into a frenzy.
Emerson graduate and devoted Red Sox fan Steven Wright brought back the laughs with his trademark monotone delivery of ironic one-liners. He closed with a classic: “A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn’t first place.”
The crowd went crazy for much of the evening, but perhaps the biggest cheers came for country superstar Jason Aldean. Based on crowd reaction alone, most fans went to see him. Though not originally from Boston, Aldean proclaimed “I’m a huge Red Sox fan if that makes any difference to y’all.” Of course it does!
Donnie Wahlberg then came out to address the Boston crowd, before the Dropkick Murphys and New Kids on the Block took the stage back-to-back: “You deserve the credit. I think we’ve shown the world in the last few months what many in Boston have already known, that we are not just one of the greatest cities on Earth, we are one of the greatest families on the planet!”
The Dropkick Murphys played songs off their recently-released EP, proceeds from which go to charities supporting victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. But a Dropkicks show wouldn’t be complete without some “Shipping Up to Boston”!
New Kids on the Block were impressively spot-on with their performance, singing virtually flawlessly while dancing in sync to some good choreography. They even had a couple of surprises up their sleeve: Bell Biv Devoe came out to perform their ’90s smash hit “Poison”, followed by fellow ’90s hitmakers Boyz II Men, who performed a special rendition of their massive hit single “One Sweet Day” along with NKOTB. Mariah Carey, though, was nowhere to be found.
One of the most human moments of the show came when New England sports hero Doug Flutie took the stage along with ESPN legend Chris Berman, Patriots hall-of-famer Tedy Bruschi and current Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. Flutie launched into an impassioned speech about the toughness of Boston, which culminated in his David Ortiz-esque declaration “You don’t f***ing mess with us!”
James Taylor and Carole King took things down a notch after Flutie’s rousing speech with their poignant ballads, including Taylor’s “Goodbye Sweet Baby James” and “Shower the People”. The two also covered Marvin Gaye’s legendary hit “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”.
Jimmy Buffett continued the acoustic sing-alongs with renditions of “Mexico”, “Changes in Latitudes”, and of course, “Margaritaville”.
Arlington-born superstar comic Dane Cook, whose performance wasn’t streamed, dealt mostly with relationships in his routine. His most memorable bit involved the complexities of texting back-and-forth with your significant other.
“Guys, you will never win a text argument with your girl so don’t even try,” he declared, and based on the laughter most people in the crowd agreed!
Cook eventually introduced Aerosmith, who took the stage and performed a brief but career-spanning set that included classic favorites “Dream On” (“They think they can keep us down…They can ‘Dream On’,” Steven Tyler said before the song), “Walk This Way” and set opener “Train Kept A-Rollin'”, as well as Get a Grip standout (now a classic?) “Livin’ on the Edge”.
“Wait, wait. We can’t end it on that note!” Tyler screamed after the end of “Walk This Way”. The show ultimately concluded with every single performer of the night joining each other on stage to sing for the crowd. They started with Beatles classic “Come Together”, which did just what its title suggests, then closed the festivities with a rousing rendition of “Dirty Water”, which may have resulted in the loudest proclamation of “Boston you’re my home!” ever.
“How about a song about Boston? Boston, you look beautiful tonight!” Tyler said before “Dirty Water”. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful night for a great city that any resident should be proud to call home.