Straight-ahead rock with Boston and Night Ranger

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If you’re a fan of pure rock-n-roll, Sunday night’s Boston / Night Ranger show would have been a great place to be.

In stark contrast to the pyrotechnically-heavy Mötley Crüe show just five days prior, the stage for Boston seemed almost bare. But, where the Crüe and even Alice Cooper relied heavily on theatrics for their show, Boston and Night Ranger chose to let the music speak for itself.

Night Ranger pushed out a number of radio-friendly rock hits in the 80s, none bigger than “Sister Christian,” a ballad taken up by high school teachers and churches as a warning sign to young women that still became the single biggest hit at proms across the country in 1984-85.

Night Ranger guitarists Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra are a tandem to be reckoned with, though, and the pair dueled back and forth with solos, moving across the stage to smile gratefully at the audience members who sang along with nearly every song. Bass player and vocalist Jack Blades, one of the founding members of rock supergroup Damn Yankees, got the audience to their feet with that group’s hits, “High Enough” and “Coming of Age.”

However, the night belonged to that ‘band out of Boston’ led by musical genius Tom Scholz, whose laid back stage presence communicated clearly that with Boston, it’s all about the music.

Scholz took the stage first, letting a few notes hang in the air before diving into “Rock and Roll Band.”

Rolling through one hit after another, it was one song after another as the group never seemed to take a break. As one song wrapped up, another would start. No long chats with the audience, no massive clouds of smoke, no flamethrowing basses. Just rock and roll.

Later in the show, Scholz made his way out to the front of the stage and played up to the audience —something I’ve only seen him do on a rare occasion. Clearly enjoying himself and the crowd at Cedar Park Center, Scholz told the audience that this was the best crowd yet on their current tour.

While that’s usually a trite and oft-repeated saying from city to city, Scholz seemed sincere. And, backstage after the show, guitarist Gary Pihl, who knows Scholz just about as well as anyone, confirmed, “He hasn’t said that anywhere else. The crowd here was great.”

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