Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Now that is a rock n' roll band.

In my late twenties, when I climbed out of poverty, I made a list of all the bands I'd always wanted to see. Last night, my list was complete. After much futzing to find a babysitter, Renee and I went to MSG to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Petty songs are so deceptively simple, humble and personal that you forget how big he is. But the stadium was full well before he went on. Steve Winwood opened and alternately thrilled the audience with hits and bored them with new stuff. Once Petty hit the stage, the crowd was jubilant. It was the warmest feeling I'd ever gotten at a rock show.

It's odd to see a solid band with a leader. Most solo artists have session guys behind them who never sound like a unit. And a great band has no clear frontman. The Heartbreakers have both. They may be billed behind Tom but he is in there, always ready to become just the rhythm guitarist in the combo. And they gave as good as they got. It seemed to be a good show even for the band. Petty thanked the crowd profusely for every applause break and called MSG "the best room in the world for rock".

And the set list! You love these songs. You love at least thirty of these songs. I haven't been to a show with that much singing since Springsteen. The songs were eclectic but centered on Petty's high-water mark, from 1989's Full Moon Fever to 1994's Wildflowers. Not many artists peak in their third decade but the broad ages of the crowd proved just how long Petty has been vital.

It took me 20 years but I finally saw all the bands I needed to see live. I guess I should start thinking about who I want to see twice. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just made that list.

1 comment:

Renee said...

Check out the tight pants in that picture....I just noticed it, and you know you are looking!!