Boston, Joan Jett deliver hits at Scranton’s Pavilion at Montage Mountain
In what has become an almost yearly tradition for the summer concert season, the biggest classic rock bands of the 70’s and 80’s head out on a joint tour of amphitheaters, allowing legions of fans the opportunity to sing along to songs that dominated the airwaves during their heyday. This year is no exception, as 70’s and 80’s hitmakers Boston have joined forces with punk rock queen Joan Jett and her longtime band, The Blackhearts, for a traveling show known as the Hyper Space Tour which touched down in Scranton on July 25.
As someone who never changed her style or beliefs, Jett has become the face of female rock, with brazen vocals, a take-no-prisoners attitude, and an affinity for power chords. While most of her set consisted of cover material she made famous, Jett put in a high energy performance including early stand outs of “Cherry Bomb,” a hit for her previous all girl outfit, The Runaways, and a cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah).”
A snarling run through her anthem “Bad Reputation,” gave way to another ode to The Runaways with a thumping “You Drive Me Wild.”
Even at 58, Jett can perfectly exemplify the look of a bad ass female with her love of leather clothing and her patented jet black punk hairdo. Rather than mix in any sappy love songs or tender ballads, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee kept the energy going with a cover of The Arrows’ “I Love Rock and Roll,” before kicking into the familiar riff of her version of the Tommy James and the Shondells staple “Crimson and Clover.”
While her crowd interaction remained minimal, Jett simply said, “We all know someone this is for” prior to a sing along to one of her biggest hits, “I Hate Myself For Loving You.”
In perhaps the most surprising performance of the night, Jett ended her set with a cover of the Sly and The Family Stone nugget “Everyday People.” While Jett is known as a punk rock singer, the way she handled the soulful vocals was something that earned her massive approval from the audience.
Perennial classic rock stalwarts Boston took the stage a little before 9 p.m. and kicked off a hit-filled set with the instantly recognizable riff to the radio smash “Rock and Roll Band.”
At age 70, Boston mastermind Tom Scholz looks as energetic as ever, flashing smiles and jumping around the stage (albeit with a knee brace) while playing the fuzzy, driving Les Paul riffs that made his band one of the biggest acts to come out of 1976.
“Feeling Satisfied” from 1978’s “Don’t Look Back” meshed perfectly into a flawless version of “Smokin’” from the band’s debut album. All told, Boston performed six of the eight tracks off the debut album which has been certified 25 times platinum and remains one of the biggest debuts by any band.
Filling in for the late Brad Delp is no easy task, but since 2008, Tommy DeCarlo has been doing a stand out job handling the vocals of someone who will always be regarded as one of the best voices of his generation. Even on the pop-friendly “Peace of Mind,” DeCarlo approached the material with respect to the way Delp originally performed it, but added his own spin to the mix.
At age 52, DeCarlo arguably sounded better on some of the earlier material than Delp had on his final tours with the group in the early part of the 2000’s, given the almost two-decade age difference.
A bluesy “Hollyann” from 1986’s “Third Stage” album featured some soaring keyboards from Scholz and fiery guitar work from longtime member Gary Pihl who, along with Scholz, provides the band with its signature dual lead guitar explosion.
A speedy “Don’t Be Afraid” featured a nice jam on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and had the pavilion crowd roaring with approval. The dual guitar mastery of Scholz and Pihl was at the forefront during “Something About You,” which also showcased more spot-on vocals by DeCarlo.
Although mostly known for loud stadium rock, Boston had ballads sprinkled throughout its career, including the 1986 Number One Hit, “Amanda.” Once again, DeCarlo shined on the crowd engaging love anthem.
Wrapping up the main set, Scholz made his way back over to the organ for the soft opening of their prog rock opus “Foreplay/Long Time,” complete with the searing guitar intro courtesy of Pihl. As has been the standard for a few recent tours, Boston left the crowd with a rocking “Party” from its sophomore album, which left everyone in good spirits.
Although these package tours are almost a dime a dozen in today’s concert scene, when the right combination is put together — like the Boston and Joan Jett pairing — it proves to be an enjoyable night. With both acts providing a constant barrage of hits, this tour is something that should make for one of the season’s better deals for anyone looking to have a good time, and lose their voice from singing along for more than three hours.