27 June 2018 (gig)
04 July 2018
Classic rock band package tours are becoming an essential part of the summer concert experience. With the rise in ticket prices, seeing two or three bands for one price is pretty hard to resist. One of the creams of the crop this year is the co-headlining bill of STYX and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, with Tesla manning the opening slot, which played the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts on June 27, 2018.
Tesla opened the night with an eight song set, which saw singer Jeff Keith in great voice on "Love Song," "Modern Day Cowboy," and a cover of Ph.Ds "Little Suzi" (Ph.D was actually an early 80's new wave/pop synth band). Most impressive about Tesla is that they are still sporting four out of their five original band members; Keith, Frank Hannon (guitar), Brian Wheat (bass), and Troy Luccketta (drums), while second guitarist, Dave Rude, has held membership in the band since 2006. Their most famous song, "Signs" (originally done by The Five Man Electrical Band in 1971), still resonates well as Keiths delivery evokes the passion of the songs anti-authority message.
Jett ignited the stage immediately with "Bad Reputation" (which is getting a new life in 2018, as former UFC fighter, and current professional wrestler, Rhonda Rousey, uses the song as the theme music for her entrance in the WWE) and "Cherry Bomb, the first of only two songs by The Runaways performed this night. She then spurred major crowd involvement with, "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)."
Not one to rely solely on her back catalog, Jett tossed out a new tune, "Fresh Start," which is featured in the forthcoming documentary on her, "Bad Reputation" (the film is set for release in September 2018, but premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year). The documentary was produced by Carianne Brinkman, who is the daughter of Jetts manager and keyboardist, Kenny Laguna. Laguna spoke mid-set last night about the struggles Jett faced starting out (during her post-Runaways solo career), as several record companies were (at that time) aloof to the idea of a woman fronting an all man band.
Jett re-visited the Runways again with, "You Drive Me Wild," (saying that this was the first song she ever penned), which led into her 1983 Top 40 hit "Fake Friends," and the Bruce Springsteen scribed, "Light of Day."
A killer set ending trio of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," "Crimson & Clover." and "I Hate Myself for Loving You," was followed by her interpretation of Sly and the Family Stones, "Everyday People" - a perfect show closer, with the songs message of an urged social utopia. As Jett at her band mates took their final bows, the 50s classic "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay" (which was released in 1958, by Danny and the Juniors) blasted throughout the speakers. No doubt, Jetts comment too many critics who have been unfoundedly predicting the demise of Rock.
STYX who have become tour workhorses the past couple of decades, were also on their game this night. Opening with the cuts "Overture" and "Gone Gone Gone" from their 2017 album "The Mission" (their first record of new music since 2003), led into singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw commanding the vocal for the bands nod to the working class, "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)." The microphone was then turned over to vocalist Lawrence Gowan for atmospheric executions of "Grand Illusion” and “Lady.”
The quintet is presently led by classic member Shaw and original representative, James J.Y. Young. Gowan has valiantly been covering the keyboard and vocal spot since in 1999 – flawlessly recreating the classic lead vocals originally done by former founding STYX member, Dennis DeYoung. While Ricky Phillips (formerly bassist of The Baby and Bad English) and Todd Sucherman (drums) round out the rhythm section.
While the band is currently promoting “The Mission,” “Grand Illusion,” the groups quintessential 1977 disc, was celebrated pretty vigorously during with night, with half of the album being performed. Young took center stage for, "Miss America," a deep cut from the record, and one of the best things he has created. An very emotional moment came when founding bass player Chuck Panozzo, who no longer tours full time with the band, made an unexpected appearance to jam with his comrades on “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man),” making the already emotional number even more poignant.
A consummate showman and skilled piano man, Gowan quickly had the crowd enamored by him by playing a snippet of The Standells “Dirty Water,” and later led a solo rendition (which crowd participation) of the opera break from Queens “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which bled into a stunning “Come Sail Away.”
The two song encore had the band resurrecting the 80s staple, “Mr. Roboto” and (with Panozzo again onstage, as he was also for “Come Sail Away”) perfectly closing with Shaws iconic “Renegade,” which ended a mammoth night of decades worth of nostalgia.