By Steve Morse
Boston Globe

WORCESTER --To commemorate Boston's historic nine-night run at the Worcester Centrum, Boston Mayor Flynn recently sent a proclamation to the band. It read: "Boston's appeal spans all generations of music lovers --and the band will go down in the city of Boston's history as being as famous as Paul Revere, Faneuil Hall and the Old North Church."

"The mayor didn't give it to us in person but sent a proxy who actually read those words with a straight face," guitarist Tom Scholz laughed after Monday's final show.

Whether the band will stay as famous as Paul Revere remains to be seen, but the group set a variety of records at the Centrum. Their nine shows dwarfed the previous record of four shared by Van Halen and Journey. They drew nearly 120,000 fans during the nine nights --enough to fill Foxborough's Sullivan Stadium twice. And they even set a mark for "the biggest balloon drop in the history of the Centrum," according to administrator Pat Lynch. About 3,000 balloons were freed from the rafters after a tumultuous half-hour of encores on Monday.

"This was the best show I think we've ever played," Scholz said, overcome by emotion in the dressing room. "The crowd and just everything about it was the best. The only trouble is that it will never be this good again!"

Scholz was so carried away that he even had a glass of champagne, though he doesn't normally drink. A famously shy individual, he then ducked a photo session with record executives to head to the back of the Centrum to shoot baskets with Boston Celtic Conner Henry, a devoted fan who saw the band on two of the nine nights.

Workhorse singer Brad Delp spent the after-show hours signing dozens of autographs in a Centrum meeting room. "After nine nights, my voice is still here," he said, clutching his throat as though to make sure.

Other band members wandered the back hall in a happy daze. "It's like coming home --and I'm not even a native," said guitarist Gary Pihl, a San Francisco transplant who played previously with Sammy Hagar. "I really feel the crowds during these nine nights have taken me in as part of the family."

As well he should. Pihl was a high-energy catalyst in each of the two shows I caught. With his long hair flopping to his shoulders, he was a crowd favorite every time he soloed.

"I have so much trouble picking the best night of the nine," added one of the band's two drummers, Jim Masdea. "All I know is that I saw kids and 60-year-old parents waving their arms every night. And they were so loud I sometimes couldn't hear what we were playing, even with a sound monitor right next to my head."

The band's set veered only slightly from night to night. The main change was adding the oldie, "Hitch a Ride," for two shows. The other noticeable change was technical: The sound quality improved from the first show when problems arose and the band blew out their system on the last song. "After nine nights, you had better get it together," Pihl said.

During the record engagement, half the band commuted from their homes and the others stayed at nearby Long View Farm, where the Rolling Stones rehearsed in 1981. They are presently off for a 10-day vacation before starting an added eight-week leg of the tour. In the meantime, Pihl will head to the Cape for a week; second drummer Doug Huffman will head home to Arkansas to "mend the fence and walk the dog"; and bassist Dave Sikes will finalize wedding plans. He'll be married in October.