BOSTON (Reuters) - A succession of all-star bands from Aerosmith to Jimmy Buffett rocked a packed house at Boston's TD Garden on Thursday night in a mostly raucous fundraiser for the victims of last month's marathon bombing.
Tickets priced between $35 and $285 sold out fast at the 17,500-seat venue, with net proceeds to be donated to The One Fund, a reserve established by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick that has received more than $31 million in donations to compensate victims of the April 15 bombing.
Three people were killed and 264 injured, many losing their legs, by homemade pressure-cooker bombs that exploded at the finish line of the world-renowned Boston Marathon.
The concert kicked off with a Jimi Hendrix-style distortion guitar version of the U.S. national anthem by rock band Boston that drew cheering fans out of their seats before lead singer Tommy DeCarlo told the crowd: "Tonight, we are all Boston."
Another Massachusetts band, Extreme, transformed the energy with a sing-along version of "More Than Words" - an acoustic love song - before the home state J. Geils Band unleashed a torrent of fast-paced blues as lead man Peter Wolf strutted the stage in black leather and shades.
"We came up here to help out Boston, but also because these are some great bands," said Shelly Watson, who drove up from Rhode Island with her husband to see the show, which also included comedians and a short speech by Victoria McGrath, a young girl who was injured in the bombing.
Other acts included country star Jason Aldean, who despite not being from Massachusetts admitted to being a fan of the Boston Red Sox baseball team; New Kids on the Block; James Taylor; and Aerosmith, which made a round-the-world detour from Singapore to make the show.
Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block won the decibel award when he took the microphone and yelled the word Boston repeatedly, drawing enthusiastic shrieks from the audience.
"You deserve the credit," he said. "Anyone can celebrate in times of glory ... but when something unspeakable happens, that's not just when cities come together but it is when families come together. We are not just one of the greatest cities on earth, we are one of the greatest families on this planet."
Concert organizers have declined to say yet how much money the concert will raise for The One Fund, but have said bands and venue employees were working for free.
Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer who specializes in mediation, was tapped by Menino and Patrick to run The One Fund. Feinberg has warned victims to lower their expectations of how much money the fund would be able to pay individual beneficiaries.
Boston bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen with roots in Russia's volatile northern Caucasus, was captured in a dramatic police manhunt days after the bombing. He was criminally charged and is being held in jail.
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was also identified by the FBI as a suspect but he was killed in a gunfight with police. U.S. security officials have said they believe the brothers had Islamic militant sympathies.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool and Eric Beech)