The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA – Friday, July 28, 2017
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have been pretty quiet for the past five or so years, but the band proved that not a hint of rust has settled in when they played to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd in Philly with the drive of a band with something to prove.
The show marked the band’s second to last night on a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of Let’s Face It, their best-selling album. The record was played in its entirety on each night of the tour, along with another dozen or so tracks spanning the band’s catalogue and a handful of inspired covers.
Immaculately decked out in black slacks and ties, with white shirts and black and white jackets (matching the backdrop and even their amps), the band launched immediately into “Rascal King,” and had the audience on their side for the rest of the night.
“We always like to get this song out of the way early on if you see us live,” said front man Dickie Barrett. “It’s called ‘The Impression That I Get.’” Although the song was the band’s biggest hit, it was obvious the crowd was hardly packed with casual fans of the Bosstones’ cannon. They sand along just as loud to deeper, earlier cuts like “Dr. D” and “Kinder Words.”
Playing dates across the east coast, The Bosstones are set to play the album again in its entirety at Chicago’s Riot Fest this fall. If they were getting a little tired of playing these songs they hide it remarkably well. “There’s some people, in order to see us who took off work, bought plane tickets to experience this,” said a grateful Barrett halfway into the set. “We’d like to acknowledge how much we appreciate all of you guys.”
The two-hour set was peppered with covers from The Wailers and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David standard “What the World Needs Now is Love,” a nod to the city’s Brotherly Love slogan and toward the end of the night they brought up D.C. openers The Pietasters so they could all sing that band’s “Ocean” (off their album Willis, which also turned 20 this year). There was not a single misstep the entire night.
The band, much like the crowd that showed up for them, has gotten a little older, and a little grayer since the album last charted, but the band put on a show that could outmatch anything they did in the ‘80s and ‘90s. They played with a ferocity and joy that is nearly impossible to fake.
And if they decide to make another circuit to celebrate the record’s 30th anniversary a decade from now, they’ll likely get a similar reaction from a deeply appreciative crowd.