On May 30th 2013, nearly 25,000 people filled the TD Bank Garden Pavilion in Boston to celebrate on of the biggest concerts in Boston history -- a benefit concert to help the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Nearly a dozen artists, many from Boston themselves, provided entertainment and a chance to honor the victims, the volunteers, the medical and police teams involved. It was an uplifting moment for the first time in nearly two months.
Opening the show with a poem spoken by the U.S. poet Richard Blanco, he spoke of heroism and the beauty of our city; the heroic acts of those willing to sacrifice themselves for others; the emotions felt at the time of the bombing and the emotions we felt then; that we'll continue to be Boston strong -- no matter what happens; that this tragedy didn't tear us apart, it brought us together. Listening to his words and looking around, I saw grown men begin to cry; the last time I saw that happen was at the celebrity hockey game right after September 11th.
The music began with the band Boston performing a couple of their bigger hits and including a surprise duet with the band Extreme, who next performed for about 10 minutes. After those two bands performed, It was time for local comedy legend Lenny Clarke to perform which was hysterical, when he tells his interpretation of the events following the attacks and the capture of the bomber, especially the search and the man who found the bomber on his boat. It felt good to laugh with everyone, To ease some of the stress.
I admit, the highlight of the show for me was New Kids on the Block, my absolute favorite boy band. When Joey McIntyre began to speak about being in the marathon, and having just left moments before the explosions happened, it was emotional especially when he pulled out his medal and he began to cry, I could feel the tears just building behind my eyes.
Another highlight for me was Carole King/James Taylor singing together, it was like a private jam session with 25, 000 of my closest friends because everyone instantly settled down and started singing along, especially on the song "So far away" and "You've got a friend."
The ending was a bit disappointing because Aerosmith was supposed to play for a half hour and they only played for 10 minutes or three songs then they closed out the show and it was over, they didn't play any of the usual songs, mainly Steven Tyler screeched while Joe Perry wailed on his guitar.
The other acts, The Drop Kick Murphys, J Geils Band, Extreme, Jimmy Buffet, comedians Steve Sweeney and Dane Cook with surprise guests Boyz II Men, Bell Biv Devo and members of the Patriots as well as the Bruins all gave their time to make this benefit concert tremendous. Although, I think more bands who originated from Boston could have given their time as well but in the end it made a difference, it gave us a sense of belonging and the ability to step forward.
The concert also shed light on the heroes of the bombing: the man who used his belt to save a little girl's leg, a former Bruin who carried another man six blocks to an ambulance, all sorts of stories that literally made you stop and think about the lengths people will go to help one another, it truly made me proud to be a Bostonian. This is my home and in that moment I felt a deeper connection with total strangers than I ever had before, we shared a common bond that can never be broken no matter what time brings us.
This wasn't about making money, this was about bringing people together and it did, it brought bands together that normally wouldn't play together and brought together an entire that had been grieving but now could heal and move on.
Did you go to the Boston Benefit concert? Were you impressed or disappointed?