Between Boston turning 40 and The Drive’s 15th Birthday Celebration, there sure was a lot to commemorate Friday night as the Rosemont Theatre filled to capacity with fans of the legendary band and the classic rock radio station. Besides the 75 million album selling headliners, loyal listeners at the contest-only concert were also rewarded with performances by psychedelic rock veterans Jefferson Starship and local favorites Backdated, who collectively churnhed out five hours of flashbacks.
The unmistakable sounds of “Cool The Engines,” “More Than A Feeling,” “Don’t Be Afraid” and “Long Time” were all met with just as much enthusiasm at The Drive’s bash as when they first hit the airwaves.
Though four decades is a challenge to condense into a single concert, Boston made the most of the opportunity, performing more than two dozen tracks in two hours spanning the group’s self-titled debut right up through the current century. The retrospective began with everyone rising to their feet for founding guitarist Tom Scholz’s towering rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” followed briskly by scorchers “Rock & Roll Band,” “Smokin,’” “Feelin’ Satisfied” and “Peace of Mind.”
Even though the members have changed, current front man Tommy DeCarlo did a faithful job honoring late great singer Brad Delp, while guitarist Gary Pihl (who’s been with the band since the “Third Stage” era) brought additional authenticity to the otherwise newer but clearly capable cast. However, Scholz remained the band’s instrumental mastermind as he switched frequently between the six string and keys to carry the unmistakable sounds of “Cool The Engines,” “More Than A Feeling,” “Don’t Be Afraid” and “Long Time,” all met with just as much enthusiasm at The Drive’s bash as when they first hit the airwaves.
Fellow 1970s fixtures Jefferson Starship also underwent several incarnations, the latest prompted by the passing of original guitarist Paul Kantner, though the group continues to honor his legacy under the direction co-founder David Freiberg, plus longtime drummer Donny Baldwin and powerhouse vocalist/Chicago native Cathy Richardson. Besides the band’s ability to vibrantly revive vintage material such as “Ride The Tiger,” “Find Your Way Back,” “Miracles, “Winds Of Change” and “Jane,” the mighty singer could even live up to the ridiculously high standard set by the now retired Grace Slick, especially when diving back to the Jefferson Airplane days for “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love.”
Prior to the main stage acts, Backdated paid tribute to the timeless sounds of the 1960s and ‘70s, blending seamlessly between the British Invasion (The Beatles, The Who), psychedelic rock (The Doors, Santana) through Motown (The Temptations) and vocal pop (Frankie Valli). Not only did the band master the wide range of material, but the entertaining cast caught the attention of the entire concourse, who rather than rushing to their seats, soaked in every moment of a tightly packed set that provided additional context to the musical side of The Drive’s milestone.
For a list of upcoming shows at Rosemont Theatre, visit Rosemont.com/Theatre/.