Dicky Barrett’s Birthday Bash

at Boston City Hall Plaza

by Maia Kennedy

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and friends took over Boston City Hall Plaza Saturday night to celebrate lead singer, Dicky Barrett’s 50th birthday. The sea of heads that filled the space was almost overwhelming. It was a sold-out show, the area seemed filled even beyond its capacity of 10,000, but despite the throngs of people it wasn’t a mob scene; everyone was just there for a good time.

It’s amazing to think how much time has passed since I first saw this band live, more than 25 years ago! The Bosstones are an institution, a fixture in Boston history, and not just to Bostonians! At the beginning of the night, I met a guy who had traveled all the way from The Netherlands just to see them. He said this was his 46th show!

The night started off with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages. This band, around since the mid ‘80’s, is also legendary in Boston. They bring an energetic “primal soul” rock/R&B that gets you moving. The lead singer, Barrence Whitfield, often compared to Little Richard, sings and screams with incredible force; he is a strong lead to the band.

The Gaslight Anthem, an alternative-rock band from New Jersey, came on next. They fit right in with the Boston crowd, having performed with the Bosstones many times over the years. As friends of Dicky’s, they came to celebrate and have a good time! A few songs into their act, the lead singer thanked the Bosstones for having them, then lead the crowd in the signature chant of “Mighty, Mighty.” He chastised everyone for their initial weak attempt, saying they were never going to beat the NY Yankees with that lack of enthusiasm. After several loud groans informing him they were all Red Sox fan here, they then repeated his chant of “Mighty, Mighty” louder and stronger with each time. These guys were a really friendly bunch and seemed to be having as much fun onstage as everyone in the audience. The crowd absorbed their enthusiasm and excitedly yelled back all their lyrics. Dicky even joined them to sing, “The Patient Ferris Wheel.”

Before the Bosstones came out, a video with a number of friends, family members and celebrities wishing Dicky a happy birthday was shown on two huge screens at either side of the stage. There were so many: his 8th grade English teacher (who said he even knew back then that Dicky had a flair for words), Dee Snyder (Twisted Sister), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), comedians Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, and Andy Richter, and Tom Brady (Patriot’s quarterback) just to name a few. Jimmy Kimmel, who was dressed as Larry Bird (blonde wig and all) was also on the video, to both wish him a happy birthday as well as give some good-natured ribbing.

Then the Bosstones just killed it and filled the night with all the audience’s favorite songs, from “Rascal King,” “Let’s face It,” “1-2-8,” and many more. It felt just like a Hometown Throwdown, just at a warmer time of year! There were many special guests through the night: Ben Carr’s son came on to join his dad and dance, Dicky’s nephew, Barrett, played sax, Brian Fallon, singer from Gaslight Anthem joined Dicky to sing, “Someday I Suppose,” and Lenny Lashley (Darkbuster, Street Dogs, and Gang of One) joined the band in “The Bricklayer’s Story.” In addition to bringing local legends onstage, they also brought on a young couple for a surprise marriage proposal (btw, she said, “Yes!”).

Towards the end of the show, perhaps the most recognizable guest to come on was Jimmy Kimmel who joined his good friend to wish him a happy birthday again in person. He then joined the band, playing saxophone on “The Impression That I Get.”

Dicky got comfortable for the encore, ditching his formal suit and trading it in for a Team USA World Cup soccer jersey with “Barret 50” written on the back. They continued with the songs, “I want My City Back,” “Where’d You Go?” and “A Pretty Sad Excuse.” It was such a memorable night and we were all sorry when it finally ended. No one wants to wish the summer away, but the Hometown Throwdown is always something to look forward to around Christmas time.

Mighty Mighty Bosstones Setlist

Dr. D

Wasted Summers

Old School Off the Bright

The Rascal King

Someday I Suppose (w/ Brian Fallon – Gaslight Anthem lead singer)

He’s Back

The Daylights

Everybody’s Better

Let’s Face It (with Dicky’s nephew, Barrett)

I Know More

Graffiti Worth Reading

Howwhywuz, Howwhyam

The Bricklayer’s Song

The One with Woes All Over It

Like a Shotgun


They Came to Boston

Kinder Words

Do Something Crazy

Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker

They Will Need Music

The Impression That I Get (w/ Jimmy Kimmel)

Impossible Dream

Encore  (all songs with Nate Albert, former Bosstones guitarist):

I Want My City Back

Where’d You Go?

A Pretty Sad Excuse

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