By DALE CARRUTHERS, The London Free Press
Boston guitarist Gary Pihl has never been to London, but he has more than a feeling he's going to love playing at Harris Park Saturday.
The 61-year-old musician and his American rock band are headlining the closing night of the three-day Rock the Park festival in London.
While Boston has played hundreds of sold-out stadium shows, Pihl says there's something "special" about playing under the stars on a summer night.
"Outdoor (shows) have a certain magic to them," Pihl said. "There's definitely something special about it. The sound travels further, it just keeps on going."
And Pihl knows a thing or two about good sound; he plays an active role in managing Boston's audio and technical equipment for tours.
Though the acoustics at some outdoor shows can be questionable, concertgoers can expect top-notch sound Saturday.
After all, Boston founder Tom Scholz, a graduate of MIT, invented all of the amplifiers the band is using at Rock the Park.
"We're the only band in the world that uses the amplifier they built," Pihl said. "When something is broken or we're adjusting something, I'm definitely in there . . . helping the crew guys through it."
Boston made a big splash on the music scene in 1976 with the release of their debut self-title album, which went on to become the second-best selling first album of all time in the United States.
But it wasn't until 1985 that Pihl joined the group, after spending eight years playing guitar in a band with Sammy Hagar, who went on to be the frontman for Van Halen.
Boston released five albums during the years, but they're still best-known for hits from their first album like More Than A Feeling, Peace Of Mind, Foreplay/Longtime and Rock And Roll Band.
So what's Pihl's favourite song to play on stage?
"Certainly, we do a song like More Than A Feeling and it's so great to stand there and have the audience singing back louder than the band, so there's nothing better than that," said the Chicago-born rocker, who started playing guitar at age ten.
"But on the other hand, songs like Walk On is very complex and technically difficult to play. It's a long song, so we certainly get a certain satisfaction from playing that well, because again it's not easy. When we pull that one off . . . wow, that's a good feeling."
While some '70s bands are known for their aged audiences, Boston has a fan base ranging from teens to seniors.
Pihl credits rock video games like Guitar Hero for introducing younger generations to Boston's music.
"So we have young kids saying 'We learned about your songs playing this video game and I had to check it out,' " he said. "To see younger fans show up . . . it's real confirmation that the songs stand on their own after all this time."
IF YOU GO
What: OMAC Mortgages Presents Rock The Park 9, a three-day fundraising rock festival for Bethanys Hope Foundation.
When: Thursday to Saturday, gates open at 4 p.m. each day.
Where: Harris Park in downtown London
Details: $63 a night, two-day (Friday and Saturday) passes, $99. Visit rockthepark.ca or call 519-672-1967.
Thursday: Slash with Myles Kennedy, Bush co-headline; I Mother Earth, Monster Truck also on bill.
Friday: Steve Miller Band headlines, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, David Wilcox, The Romantics also on bill Saturday: Boston headlines, REO Speedwagon, 54-40, Prism also on bill.