By Richard Valdmanis
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 fund-raiser 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 so far received more than $37 million in donations to compensate victims of the April 15 bombing.
The music 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 homegrown J. Geils Band unleashed a torrent of fast-paced R&B 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.
"We came here tonight to show the world how resilient we are," he said.
Fellow band mate Joey McIntyre displayed the marathon medal he earned on the day of the explosion before the group broke into a run of songs including "I'll Be Loving You" and "Step By Step."
Aerosmith closed the show with a bang with lead man Steven Tyler sporting an ankle-length cape and leopard-pattern shirt dancing with his microphone stand while singing rousing versions of "Sweet Emotion" and "Living on the Edge."
"How heavy does your heart feel after a night like this?" he asked the cheering crowd.
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.
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 on April 15.
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.
(This version of story corrects spelling of Jimmy Buffett in first paragraph)
(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool, Eric Beech and Lisa Shumaker)