With Vince Gill, Boston Pops triumph in opener

A review of Vince Gill with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on May 8, 2013

, Editor-in-Chief

As the city continues to heal after the tragic events at the Boston Marathon, Bostonians have been steadfast in coming together, remembering all those affected and continuing to hold its traditions close to the heart. For over a century, the Boston Pops have been an institution. On Wednesday night, with the help of special guest Vince Gill, they played their part in the healing process by opening their 128th season.

The most powerful part of the night came towards the end of the night when Gill proclaimed his sentiments for the city of Boston and the tragic events of April 15. Gill, an Oklahoma native, ended his set by delivering a song he wrote for his late brother which has become an anthem for healing. The heartfelt and earnest ballad “Go Rest High” was perfectly fitting and with the backing of the Pops, it never sounded better.

The pops returned for an encore of “No One Is Alone” from the musical Into the Woods, after which conductor Keith Lockhart recited the fitting lyrics and proclaimed to the heroes among us. He then introduced Dr. David King, who returned to work as a surgeon at MGH after running the marathon himself. They honored him with the tradition as guest conductor for “Stars and Stripes Forever”. His lively direction coupled with the crowds admirable appreciation for his service and their clear love for the Pop’s anthem made for a moment of triumphant ecstasy.

Gill, the veteran country star and acclaimed guitar slinger was in fine form. Repeatedly calling the evening a very special treat, he introduced many of the songs with his dry wit and also told of his connection to Lockhart (wife, and acclaimed Christian singer, Amy Grant was a classmate of his at Furman University). The pops added a layer of elegance to his longtime band. Among the standouts were “If You Ever Have Forever In Mind” and “Whenever You Come Around”. Backing vocalist Dawn Sears fulfilled her dream of performing with a live orchestra when Gill handed her the lead for “Faint Of Heart”. If there was a complaint to be had, it was his selection of mostly ballads that failed to spice up the orchestra. He unleashed a solid solo at the end of “Pretty Little Adriana” and then kicked it up with “One More Last Chance”, but both were selections he and his band performed without the Pops.

The night began with a set previewing the Pops’ 2013 theme of “Lights, Camera, Action!”, with a video of memorable films accompanying opener “Hooray For Hollywood”. Proving they can provide for all ages, Lockhart led the Pops through a tour of noted scores through the years from themes to 1939’s Gone With The Wind to 1962’s Days of Wine and Roses” and “Under The Sea” from Disney’s Little Mermaid. Of course, you can’t talk music and films without the mentioning of the great John Williams. Lockhart praised his predecessor, who at 81 years of age is still going strong and approaching 100 scores, before the Pops treated the crowd to the “Flying Theme” from E.T. The remainder of the first set was a preview to the Pop’s upcoming Disney Fantasia shows with selections from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “The Pines of Rome”.

Vince Gill Setlist
1. When Love Finds You (with orchestra)
2. If You Ever Have Forever In Mind (with orchestra)
3. I Still Believe In You (with orchestra)
4. Pretty Little Adriana
5. Whenever You Come Around (with orchestra)
6. One More Last Chance
7. Faint Of Heart (with orchestra)
8. Go Rest High On That Mountain (with orchestra)

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