DKM join Pops for fun night at Symphony Hall

A review of the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on May 24, 2012

, Editor-in-Chief

Hot dogs, t-shirt cannons and the Dropkick Murphys. Yes, it was not your typical night at Symphony Hall last Thursday as the Boston Pops celebrated “Red Sox” night as part of their three-night “City of Champions” concert series.

It was a night filled with special guests but none were more anticipated than the Dropkick Murphys. The hometown heroes, who were also performing a short set over at the House of Blues before the Boston versus New York boxing exhibition, made their short but sweet cameo in the second half of the show. They started with Red Sox Nation anthem “Tessie”, which was buoyed by the big horns of the Pops. The crowd quickly got into it, clapping along and shouting “two! three! four!” before the song’s chorus. Ken Casey, the band’s co-founder/bassist/singer reminisced with the crowd how the band was founded in part at Symphony Hall. He and drummer Matt Kelly (who was limited to backing vocals for the set) were both bartenders at the historic venue when Kelly challenged Casey to start a band. Casey thanked the crowd and the Pops for the honor of playing before the band launched into their second and final song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”. It was here that the Pops really made their impact and not surprisingly, as the orchestra has performed several times over the past few years. The orchestra gave the song a powerful kick, as the “whoa oh oh”‘s showered down from passionate fans in the balcony.

Just as game at Fenway would begin, the Pops performance began with a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” led by baritone James Demler of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. A special video tribute to the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Revolution followed. With the crowd fired up, Patriots Hall of Famer Andre Tippett joined the Pops on stage for his entertaining and witty reading of “Freddy The Football”. The football portion of the show concluded with theme to Monday Night Football.

With the Olympics returning this summer, the Pops dedicated part of the set to the global games. They honored hometown Olympians Kristine Lilly and Molly Schaus, played along to “The Olympic Spirit” video by Susan Dangel and performed John Williams’ “Call of Champions” (from the 2002 Winter Olympics”. The first half the night concluded with the beginning of the Pops’ Red Sox Tribute as local journalist Mike Barnicle narrated “Field of Dreams” before a jovial sing-along to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, complete with a Pops’ employee revving up the crowd with a t-shirt cannon.

The second half of the show began with “Fanfare to Fenway”, the Pops’ newly penned tribute to “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” by John Williams. Following the Dropkick Murphys performance, the Pops delivered another Fenway favorite in Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. Mascot Wally the Green Monster joined maestro Keith Lockhart on stage to direct the orchestra and then the crowd for the sing-along. Demler returned to deliver a lively rendition of “The Boston Baseball Cantata”, a 50-year old song the Pops revived from the baseball archives. Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine made a cameo during the appearance, bringing the song to life by rushing the stage to argue with the umpire (Demler). Catcher Kelly Shoppach followed with another cameo to join Lockhart in throwing balls out the audience. The main set concluded with a performance of Queen’s “We Are The Champions”, complete with a video of Boston’s championship highlights. As if any proof was needed, the moment served as true reminder we are fortunate and truly spoiled to be living in Boston, home of several championship teams and world class orchestra.

The Pops returned for encore performance of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. As tradition for the Pops, Lockhart welcomed special guests Luis Tiant and Jim Lonborg, both former Red Sox greats, to conduct the orchestra’s performance of the patriotic classic.

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