Mighty Mighty Bosstones at Middle East Downstairs, December 26, 2007
The air was thick with nostalgia and Boston pride, not to mention the more tangible sweat that was dripping from the pipes downstairs at the Middle East a week ago last Wednesday as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones kicked off their 10th Hometown Throwdown — the band’s first holiday homestand since 2002 and their first show since going on hiatus in 2003. Frontman Dicky Barrett, who’s spent the past few years in LA working as the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, couldn’t contain his local loyalty: “This is the greatest fucking city in the world!” he declared at one point.
HUGE: Dicky’s signature bulldog growl was fully intact in the Bosstones’ first show since 2003.
The band — composed of the latter-day Bosstones line-up of Barrett, bassist Joe Gittleman, drummer Joe Sirois, guitarist Lawrence Katz, dancer Ben Carr, trombonist Chris Rhodes, and saxophonists Tim Burton and Roman Fleysher — played a nearly hour-and-a-half-long, career-spanning set (highlights: a souped-up “Devil’s Night Out,” “Someday I Suppose,” and a spot-on cover of the Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail”). They sounded tight and huge as ever, Dicky’s signature bulldog growl fully intact and the horns and guitar bright and blaring. The scene downstairs was eerily reminiscent of the 1997 Throwdown (captured for posterity on the band’s Live from the Middle East album): the familiar black and white plastic Santas, one of each flanking the stage, and the ceiling above them dotted with Christmas lights.
Still, there was something vaguely disappointing about the whole thing. Maybe it was all the anticipation — the band’s MySpace comments section had been filled with missives from people coming from as far away as Decatur, and tickets were still fetching hundos on Craigslist hours before. Or maybe it was that the crowd was tamer than at Throwdowns past — we’ve clearly aged along with the band.
Whatever. Dicky still has a way with poignant sentiment: after a stirring rendition of Stiff Little Fingers’ “Tin Soldiers,” he spoke for everyone in the room when he said, “Let’s hope that by the next Throwdown, the fucking war is over.” A few minutes later, he walked offstage as the crowd commenced the old customary chant: “Mighty Mighty . . . Boss-tones!”
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