Chris Botti in Boston

1222090316On Friday night, we headed to Symphony Hall to catch Chris Botti and the Boston Pops. The trumpeter, who attributes his success to “practice, practice, practice, and being friends with Sting,” brought out the British superstar, Boston boys John Mayer and Steven Tyler, and a slew of other big-name musicians for a concert that will be aired on PBS for its March 2009 pledge drive.

It was a great time, with middle-aged men reduced to acting like fanboys when Tyler took the stage. After the jump, we review the highlights, and one very serious lowlight.

Much like our love of Gossip Girl, we’re a little alarmed by our adoration of the pop star. Sure, he’s got kids who are older than us, but we’re a sucker for a guy with an accent who advertises his sexual prowess. It was thrilling to be about 20 feet away from the star as he sang “7 Days” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” which sounded amazing with the Pops behind him. Unfortunately for us, Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler was about five feet away from her husband. There go our dreams of living in a castle.

Steven Tyler was wearing our prom dress as pants
As soon as the Aerosmith frontman hit the stage, we noticed the similarities between his black and purple floral pants and the detail on our goth-inspired dress. We’re not sure if this makes us proud (rock and roll!) or embarrassed.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” was used in all seriousness
Shortly after Mayer took the stage, a stagehand came out to stop him. The audience assumed the cameras had missed something, but a couple of security guys rushed to a seat at the opposite side of the hall from us. We thought there might be a fight (again), until someone asked for a doctor.

An elderly man was having a heart attack in the audience. About 20 minutes later, he was taken away on a gurney. Symphony Hall staffers assured us the man would be fine, but it put a damper on things. (We emailed the Pops to see how the man is doing, but haven’t heard back.)

It got awkward before it got better
The Pops and Botti came back on stage, and Botti asked Sting what he should do. The singer said “Remember 9/11?” Botti and Sting were moments away from a performance in Italy when they heard about the attacks. The audience said they wanted the show to go on, and Sting opened with “Fragile.”

After Friday’s medical scare, Botti switched the set list and had Sting and Yo-Yo Ma come out to play the song. While comparing one man’s heart attack to an international tragedy seemed a little awkward, the change brought the energy back to the room in a way that felt respectful.

Chris Botti’s drummer stole the show
With all the huge talent that took the stage, the audience was perhaps most entertained by Billy Kilson. From the opening number, Kilson was charismatic, smiling at the audience from behind his drums and playfully interacting with the other musicians. The crowd wildly cheered him after his solo toward the end of the evening.

Chris Botti: Live in Boston will air on PBS in March 2009. A live audio CD of the show will be released in December 2008.