HomeTown ThrowDown #18
"At the Rat"
at the House of Blues Boston
by Maia Kennedy
I’ve been following The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and going to their shows for over 20 years now, but I was especially excited for this HomeTown ThrowDown when I found out that The Neighborhoods were one of the openers. They are one of the many great Boston bands whose shows I missed in the early days but always wanted to see!
First, the noblemen from the Upper Crust stride snobbishly onto the stage, adorned in their gilded 18th-century attire. These guys may not reveal their souls onstage but Lord Bendover, Count Bassie, The Duc D'istortion, and Jackie Kickassis, sure do bring on a kickass performance. They play a timeless hard rock enjoyed by all!
The Neighborhoods, definitely a part of Boston’s Rock Royalty, come on next. They play with incredible energy and cover the stage running and jumping from end to end while they play nonstop. Their excitement is contagious and I feel the music running through me, the whole reason I love to see bands play live! They play so many great songs, fantastic covers, a bunch of hits and all my favorites … save for one. I get it, I get it, perhaps I would feel like taking a bunch of kindergarteners hostage too if everyone demanded that I play “Prettiest Girl” at every show for over 30 years. They make up for it though playing a great cover of The Clash’s “Safe European Home.” Before the song, Dave Minehan, the lead singer, reminisces about seeing this great band perform in Harvard Square and how that day changed his life. “I started a band because of them, just like everyone else.” As the song winds down, he sings loudly, “And I’ve got so much gratitude.”
The evening continues now with a different vibe, a few songs from Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One. Just one guy set off to the side of a dark and empty stage. Alone with his guitar, he stands resolutely with a spotlight shining down on him. His acoustic tunes don’t call out angrily, but tell stories with words that everyone can feel.
Now, as the curtains are ripped down, The Bosstones pour out and we see a stage set to honor the old Rathskellar, “the granddaddy of Boston rock venues.” The back of the stage is decked-out to look just like the brick front of the club, including the signs “Food - Drinks - Music” and above that “Rathskellar” in the old-style German font. My introduction to the Boston music scene began in the 7th grade. I wasn’t as immersed in this scene growing up as I would have liked, but I went to a few memorable all-ages shows at some of the Boston clubs. For some reason, though I never made it down to that club, affectionately known as The Rat. It’s great to see this historical part of the Boston music scene, just as I imagine it once looked, and to see the bands that played it then playing it now!
The Bosstones get the crowd excited just as soon as they enter and they keep the energy going. This is nothing new, every Bosstones show I have been to is like this. The crowd is filled with hundreds of the faithful who plan for this show all year and book their flights well in advance. They come in all ages, know all the songs, and sing along to every one. There are also plenty of new fans, for some this is their first concert, for others it is just their first time seeing The Bosstones. You can usually tell the groups of people apart by their expressions, the virgins are just as excited, but also pretty wide-eyed.
The Bosstones are resplendent, all decked out in matching red plaid suits. It is not unusual to see a few in the audience with the same eye-catching suits. It is a Plaid Plaid World after all! These guys put on a tight show. It all looks so natural, just playing around, but then they break into synchronized dance moves, horns included. And Dicky Barrett, the lead singer, smoothly tries on the many hats that are passed to him from the audience as he sings, “That’s a Helluva Hat You’re Wearing.”
The reminiscing continues as we are introduced to surprise guest, Jimmy Harold, former owner of The Rat. Dicky exclaims sardonically, “He hasn’t aged a day, but then again he looked old back then.” The laughter continues through the night, as do the songs. Many hits are played as well as cover songs, including the appropriate one titled, “At the Rat” (by Willie “Loco” Alexander & The Boom Boom Band).
After almost 30 songs, the night is coming to an end, at least for the performance. Dicky comes down from the stage to shake hands, sign autographs, and chat with many new and familiar faces. The Boston music scene has always been a strong one, supported by many loyal fans. Boston bands also support each other, coming to each other’s shows as well as doing guest appearances. Saturday I saw Tim Brennan from the Dropkick Murphys, another Boston band, in the audience and I heard that he was on stage playing with them the next day.
Boston bands don’t just support each other, they also support and get support for the causes they care about. The Bosstones held a raffle of old memorabilia to help out the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Some very lucky people walked away with some cool stuff, one-of-a-kind pictures of performances from the old days.
I Can't Think Straight
Pure And Easy
No Place Like Home
Safe European Home
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Old School Off the Bright
Do Something Crazy
Sunday Afternoons on Wisdom Ave.
Where'd You Go?
I'll Drink To That
Someday I Suppose
Let Me Be
Hell of a Hat
(It Sure Don't Feel Like) XMas Time (Dogmatics cover)
Hope I Never Lose My Wallet
All Things Considered (Dedicated to Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead who recently passed away)
The Rascal King
Don't Worry Desmond Dekker
This Time of Year
At The Rat (Willie 'Loco' Alexander & The Boom Boom Band cover)
They Will Need Music
The Impression That I Get
Tin Soldier (Stiff Little Fingers cover)
A Little Bit Ugly