"Where we all live ain't a soul around," Aerosmith sang on "Movin' Out," the first song Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wrote together. A little after noon on Monday, it was a mob scene, with thousands of fans jamming the block in front of the Boston apartment building where the band came together more than 40 years ago.
The cut, from the band's debut album, was one of several vintage Aerosmith house-rockers (and a couple from their new album Music From Another Dimension!, out tomorrow) the band played in a free promotional concert. Tyler and Perry wrote the song on a waterbed, the singer told the crowd from a makeshift stage on the bed of an open tractor-trailer.
The set, televised live on AXS TV, was billed as an election special: "Vote This Way," read posters passed out to the crowd. Adding to the patriotic flair, Aerosmith were introduced by New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, with team captains Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo alongside. The band arrived at the staging area behind police barricades by duck boat, the amphibious tourist vehicles featured in the city's recent championship parades.
On a chilly day, Tyler showed up in a long coat and a huge fur hat. Upon arriving, Perry pointed up to a young woman leaning out of a second-floor window at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue and told the crowd, "Right where that young, beautiful blonde is was my bedroom."
After accepting commemorative city street signs bearing the address, the band stepped out of sight while the road crew set up the stage. Several current Boston University students watching from the windows of the apartment below Perry's old one said they skipped classes to see the show. "Hell yeah!" said 21-year-old Karen Contador, who said she plays trumpet in the B.U. band, which opened for Aerosmith and the J. Geils Band two years ago at Fenway Park.
"Hi mom, I'm home!" yelled Tyler when the band took the stage. In bright sunshine, he quickly stripped down to a sleeveless T-shirt. A few minutes after opening with the band's old cover of the Rufus Thomas R&B nugget "Walking the Dog," Tyler introduced the grinding "Lover Alot," the first new song of the set, by challenging drummer Joey Kramer: "Remember this, Kramer?"
Piling on the red-white-and-blue theme, the Patriots' cheerleading squad made up the band's front-row audience. Many of the police officers on hand snapped cellphone photos when the band played some of its most recognizable hits: "Back in the Saddle," "Sweet Emotion," "Walk This Way."
"I love it when you do that!" Tyler shouted at one point, imploring the crowd to whip it up: "Express yourself!" At the close of "Train Kept A-Rollin'," roadies blasted the crowd with red, white and blue confetti. Tyler's legendary mouth was split in a gigantic grin as he jumped offstage. More than four decades after moving out, the band seemed genuinely thrilled about this trip down Memory Lane.