BOSTON (AP) -- With the season's first hurricane bearing down on New England, Boston hosted the Boston Pops Fourth of July outdoor concert and fireworks show Thursday, a night earlier than planned and just ahead of drenching rain.

The event, which airs nationally and draws more than half a million visitors to the city, was moved a day earlier when it became clear that the region would feel the brunt of Hurricane Arthur on Independence Day.

Shelli Keisling, of Cocoa Beach, Fla. waits for the start of a concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston, Thursday, July 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The anticipated severe weather has prompted the cancellation of July 4th events in coastal Massachusetts, particularly in the summer retreats of Cape Cod and the islands south of Boston, where a tropical storm warning has been issued.

But on Boston's Esplanade along the Charles River Thursday evening, temperatures were in the high 80s and there were few clouds in sight. Sailboats glided in the waters nearby.

Beach Boys founder Mike Love, Broadway star Megan Hilty and the Boston Children's Chorus offered lively performances and thousands of revelers sang along to patriotic songs.

Officials cut the concert short so that spectators could see the colorful fireworks display. And after the final fireworks exploded in the night sky, state police ordered the many thousands in attendance to quickly clear the area. Within minutes, the skies opened up bringing heavy rain and lightning.

The show attracted its usual mix of local residents and out-of-towners. A number of concertgoers said they were visiting Boston for the first time and had planned their trip specifically to catch the concert.

"We watch it on the TV every year, so we figured we'd see it in person," said Mercedes Przecioski, a Phoenix, Arizona, resident who arrived in Boston early Thursday morning with her husband, Steve, and daughter, Vanessa.

"Coming from Phoenix, we're happy for rain," said Przecioski. "We haven't seen it in six months."

Orlando, Florida, residents Bob and Diane Rindfuss said changing the day for the concert and fireworks show meant they'd have more time to tour the city.

"Now we got a day to do something nice," said Bob Rindfuss. "But inside. Maybe a museum or the aquarium. We haven't thought that far."

Concertgoers who staked out an early seat in the park were treated to the sounds of performers running through their sound checks Thursday afternoon.