Aerosmith rocks the old neighborhood
Aerosmith took to the streets of Boston Monday to hype their new CD, playing a 45-minute, hits-heavy set outside the Allston apartment they once called home.
Looking remarkably spry for five guys in their 60s, the band played on a flatbed truck set up in front of 1325 Commonwealth Ave., a onetime crash pad where Aerosmith wrote some of their earliest songs. The carefully stage-managed PR stunt — the band arrived on a duck boat — drew thousands of fans, some of whom arrived shortly after dawn to stake out a spot.
"It's nice to see they're showing some love to Allston," said Jason Katz, whose family owns Brookline Liquor Mart. (The store's marquee read: "Welcome Back Bad Boys of Boston.")
"I wish we'd had more heads-up so we could plan accordingly," said Katz. "I would have bought more beer and had more nips ready."
Although there to promote their new CD, "Music From Another Dimension!," which comes out Tuesday, Aerosmith played only two songs from the record, opting instead to trot out some of their best-known hits, including "Walk This Way,'' ''Sweet Emotion,'' and "Mama Kin." If there is any lingering bad blood between Toxic Twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, it wasn't evident Monday.
Aerosmith was introduced to the crowd by Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, a longtime fan who likened the group to the Pilgrims, calling them "a rock 'n' roll band that showed Americans that great, blues-based rock could be made in the United States."
Kraft was joined onstage by his father, team owner Robert Kraft, and Pats players Jerod Mayo and Tom Brady, who smiled broadly as he greeted the band and then stopped briefly to chat backstage with Angela Menino, wife of Mayor Tom Menino.
Aerosmith began the day at TD Garden, where they boarded the duck boat that would take them — with a police escort — past Government Center, along Tremont Street, by Boston Common, and down Commonwealth Avenue, where bewildered students and passersby wondered if perhaps the Red Sox had actually won the World Series. Panhandlers paused to cheer the band as they passed.
Four decades after they formed a band, the naughty native sons still draw a crowd.
"We left our house at 4:30 this morning," said Andrew Kelly, who lives in Goffstown, N.H. "I've been listening to them on the radio since I was 3 years old. I'm psyched."
Also enjoying the spectacle was 62-year-old Joan Pasquale, who told us she lived at 1325 Comm. Ave. when the band did, and she bumped into them frequently back in the day.
"I don't want to ruin their bad-boy reputation here, but they were very nice, polite guys — really nice neighbors," said Pasquale.
Before Aerosmith picked up their instruments, a plaque commemorating their connection to the building was unveiled, and each member was given a "1325 Commonwealth Ave." street sign. They were amused.
"We lived right up there where that beautiful blonde is," said Perry, pointing to a fair-haired coed hanging out of an open window.
"When we lived here, we were never up this early," Tyler told the crowd. "What are you doing here?"
Of course, not everyone was so thrilled about the afternoon show, which led police to temporarily close some streets, tow cars, and set up barriers in the area. Traffic and MBTA service along Commonwealth Avenue were ultimately shut down to accommodate the large crowd.
A cardboard sign propped in the window of a nearby building read: "Dear Aerosmith I hope you plan on paying for my car being towed!!!"
Though college students could be seen drinking beer on rooftops, and the pungent smell of marijuana wafted through the crowd, a Boston police spokeswoman said she'd not heard of any arrests related to the band's appearance. Likewise, Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said there were no problems.
At the end of "Train Kept a Rollin," red, white, and blue confetti was shot into the air, and Tyler stepped to the microphone (which was draped, as always, in colorful scarves).
"This is where it started. This is where it will never finish," he said. "There is no finish line for this band. Goodnight, baby!"
From there, it was back onto the duck boat and another police escort to the TD Garden. But before climbing into one of the idling Escalades in the parking lot, Tyler, Perry, guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton, and drummer Joey Kramer paused to put their hands in cement, making prints that eventually will be laid in the sidewalk outside 1325 Comm. Ave.
The ceremony took a little longer than expected because Tyler had to remove the many rings he wears on his fingers.