By KEN PERROTTE
THE FREE LANCE-STAR


iT WAS D

My fading memory seems to recall him doing the same thing the first time I saw the group in 1976 at the Montreal Forum, when the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar, later of Van Halen (or Van Hagar, as some know them) was the warm-up act. Former Hagar guitarist Gary Pihl has been with the group since those early tours.

Boston crafted a unique sound under Scholz's leadership. In a time when so many new bands sound like assembly line clones, it was great to hear the guitar-driven melodies of a group of rock veterans. At times, the seven-member band employed five guitars cranking it out in front of the superb drumming of newcomer Jeff Neal and the bass lines of Kimberley Dahme.

Dahme, with a great voice and the ebony porn looks of a voluptuous Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, stole the attention of all able-bodied males in the audience.

Original vocalist Brad Delp, still in first-class vocal form, and Fran Cosmo showed how to share singing duties. Delp graciously noted that Cosmo helps "bail me out" every night when it comes to hitting some of the higher notes that were a little easier to reach nearly 30 years ago. Cosmo's son Anthony also wields a guitar in the band, though he largely hangs in the background.

For a solid two and a half hours, 4,000 fans were treated to signature riffs spanning three decades of hits from only five albums.

The group has always been a bit of an enigma, releasing its huge debut album "Boston" in 1976 and following it with the 1978 smash "Don't Look Back." The next three releases were spaced every eight years, with the last in 2002.

Highlights from the lengthy set included "Peace of Mind," "Don't Look Back," "Hollyann" and "Walk On" with Scholz's trademark Phantom of the Opera organ solo, complete with cape.

The evening was capped with stellar renditions of tour de force "Foreplay/Long Time," and two encores featuring "Something About You," "Party" and "Smokin'."

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