THAT WAS AWESOME!
Just got home from our amazing 68-show 2014 BOSTON summer tour. The trip opened with a sold out performance at the beautiful Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, and ended four months later with two sold out shows at Tokyo's iconic Budokan in Japan.
This was simply the most amazing BOSTON tour I have ever experienced - the best live performances by the band in our history, the best sound, amazing lights from our LD Gregg Maltby, exciting venues, wide screen panoramic videos, and of course most important of all, the best and most enthusiastic fans ever!
Behind the scenes the musicians and crew members worked very hard to pull off the performances and fine-tune the sound every night, but once on stage, we had as much fun at the shows as the audience did. The players and technicians with BOSTON made the show look effortless, but trust me, it's a lot harder than they made it look! As I took the stage for the last show in Tokyo with Gary, Tommy, Tracy, Kimberley and Jeff, I realized how lucky I was to be surrounded by people who are both friends and such excellent players, performing with all this equipment so expertly assembled and operated night after night. As icing on the cake, near the end of the night Siobhan Magnus [American Idol season 9 finalist] took the stage and nailed the lead vocal for "Walk On." Even after a difficult day traveling and scrambling to get ready for a show, stepping onto the stage with these exceptional performers to play for the best fans in the world was an incredible rush - the day's problems were instantly erased and life was very good!
Each individual show was the culmination of endless hours of effort on the part of three dozen people organizing, rehearsing, problem solving, and just plain working long and hard. I'm proud to have been on stage, and behind the scenes, with every one of these dedicated professionals who made our tour such a great success. This was the largest number of shows for a single BOSTON tour in 35 years, but the tour was so exciting, we are already looking forward to bringing BOSTON to even more cities.
Our tour this year also raised over $70,000 for the Sea Shepherds to help them in their heroic efforts to end the horrifying slaughter of whales and other defenseless sea dwellers, and over $70,000 for the Shriner's Hospital for Children which provides medical care for underpriveledged children. BOSTON's Greatest Hits CDs were sold at the at the shows with the profits going to both the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Shriner's Hospital for Children. Our generous fans responded in near-record numbers and the effort ended up generating over $140,000 which was split between the two charities. Like I've always said, BOSTON fans are the best!
Finally, here are a few of my own favorite memories from the tour:
Seeing thousands of people sing along with the band at every show. After the long hours of practice and rehearsal in solitude, the thrill of BOSTON's music bringing a crowd to life is hard to describe.
Watching Siobhan Magnus electrify the crowd with her vocal performance of "Walk On" every night.
Tommy DeCarlo bashing the giant gong at the start of "Rock n' Roll Band," then leading the charge from center stage.
My wife Kim customizing my Les Paul with a perfect checkerboard finish in honor of Rick Nielson, all done with scrounged tape and an exacto blade - what a cheap trick!
Listening to Gary Pihl's guitar lead take off in the middle of "Walk On," while Jeff, Tracy, Kimberley and I laid down the pounding "Bolero" rhythm.
Speaking Japanese (badly) in Tokyo for the first time and having thousands of people understand it!
Viewing the incredible vast Siberian landscape on our way to Japan on a crystal clear day. Even from 36,000 feet, the features of the white moonscape were overwhelming.
Flying an old single-engine plane to 60 different US destinations with my wife Kim, and friend and fellow pilot Henry Lingley:
Because my back won't put up with long bus rides, pressing my 34-year old, 4-seat plane into service seemed like a feasible way for me to get from show to show. But flying this beautiful old bird is nothing like riding in the back of one of those ubiquitous multi million dollar business jet at mach .8!
My classic (not quite an antique yet) piston prop plane has no glass panel displays, no GPS in the panel, no gentle female voice telling you you're about to bite it because a cylinder is running too hot - but it does have an electric starter and the original ancient basic autopilot. We did of course bring along some hand held navigation devices to help us find our way.
Unfortunately, the auto pilot died about 10 minutes after the very first takeoff, which meant I (as 2nd in command) got to "hand fly" us from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale, and to the next half dozen shows after that. Luckily, the electric starter continued to function, as I draw the line at hand-propping a Beech Bonanza.
Traveling long distances in a light plane is a bit slower than modern day jets, but thanks to this sweet ride we saw volcanic mountains and glacial lakes in the Cascades from just a few hundred yards, had an amazing low altitude ride back thru the mountains in a winding a canyon, flew over towering massive cumulus, through countless other amazing cloud scenes, and got inside quite a few bumpy ones we couldn't avoid. All in all, we crossed over the Rocky Mountain chain and flew coast to coast 4 times. Of course tour routing being as it is, none of this was accomplished in a straight line, as we zig zagged back and forth we lost count of how many times we crossed the Mississippi.
According to Henry's definition, every landing was a great one - a good landing is one you can walk away from; a great landing is one where you can use the plane again.
See you next time!
"What I Did On My Summer Vacation"
by Gary Pihl
Sixty-eight concerts in the USA, Canada and Japan with sun, rain, wind, friends, relatives, a bunch of terrific bands and memories we'll never forget! Like the show in Bangor where Tom had his guitar done up with a checkerboard motif as an homage to Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. Or the thunderstorm in Cleveland when the power went out for a couple of seconds but the band played on. Or the show where there were so many bugs in the air that I may have swallowed one while singing and thereby lost my vegetarian status for the day.
I think we all had former high school bandmates come to one show or another and make us laugh and remember the crazy gigs we did in the past. We got to see aunts and uncles and cousins we hadn't seen in years. And some that weren't even born the last time we came through town.
What a terrific crew we've had working with us! 24 guys and 5 women that became our immediate family for five months. They put in long days, every day, to get the audio, lights and video set up and working perfectly whether it was in the L.A. Forum or the infield at the South Dakota State Fair.
We were very fortunate to have been able to share our stage with some terrific bands this year. Cheap Trick, The Doobie Brothers, Blue Oyster Cult, Night Ranger, Mickey Thomas' Starship, Kory and the Fireflies, .38 Special, Kansas, Reb Beach Project, Don Felder, Sweet, April Wine, Joshua Scott Thomas, Scott Bratcher, Random Manor. One sad note was when we heard about Jimi Jameson passing away just a few weeks after we shared the stage with his band, Survivor.
Our four final shows in Japan were a wonderfully unique experience. The audiences were so attentive and supportive. But whether in Japan, Canada, or the US, what we'll remember most are the fans who sang along so loudly, we could barely hear our guitars! Thanks for making our summer so special for just another band out of Boston.