Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
burst onto the music scene out of Gainesville, Florida in the mid-seventies
and soon, the youth of America strongly identified with songs like "American
Girl" and "Breakdown." Petty and the Heartbreakers were soon established
as a staple on classic rock radio stations across the country.
Petty is now on tour in
support of his new solo album, "Full Moon Fever," which not surprisngly,
has sprung three hit singles, "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'," and
"Running Down A Dream." Although "Fever" was a solo project, Petty is
out on tour with his backup band the Heartbreakers in full force, with
lead guitarist extraordinaire, Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench,
drummer Stan Lynch and bassist Howie Epstein.
Playing against a rather
unusual backdrop at the Pacific Amphitheatre, Petty and the Heartbreakers
gave a rousing performance in front of a rather large and grotesque
looking treehouse that looked like the home of the Swiss Family Robinson
gone bonkers. The strange set took absolutely nothing away from what
everyone showed up for, which was, of course, the music.
The Heartbreakers were loose
in mood and tight in their musical cohesiveness with a comfort level
that only happens after playing together for nearly two decades. Their
vast song catalog was put out on display to the delight of the Pacific
Amphitheatre crowd as "Even The Losers," Petty's underdog anthem from
the breakthrough "Damn The Torpedoes" album was given an acoustic touch,
with only Petty and his guitar opening the tune, and then gradually
building into the familiar full force of the Heartbreakers cranking
out the anthem.
Among the new songs, "Free
Fallin" was warmly greeted, as was "Running Down a Dream," which had
the whole joint a jukin' and a jumpin'. The Petty tradition of the audience
singalong with "Breakdown" was not to broken on this night, as the crowd
cleared out its vocal cords shouting out the lyrics to the moody, classic
In a humorous moment, Petty
delivered Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," but substituted the
name "Axl" for the word "Heaven" in reference to his run in with Guns
N Roses vocalist Axl Rose backstage at the MTV awards show.
Petty is constantly evolving
chameleon of an artist who never stops altering his style, never afraid
of taking chances in his songwriting craft. He has worked with a wide
variety of artists, including Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, Lone
Justice, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and of course, his cohorts
from the Traveling Wilburys, Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and
Jeff Lynne. In each instance he touched various new heights in musical
creativity, breaking uncharted musical territory.
His songwriting has ranged
from poignant and touching to angry and rebellious. He has overcome
a tremendous share of personal adversity and near tragedies and still
managed to inspire and keep a healthy sense of humor, keeping his feet
and ego down to earth.
up the concert for me, was Petty belting out the lyrics from the line