Tom Petty treats crowd to his greatest hits
By TIMOTHY COLLINS
Scene Music Critic
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were formed in Los Angeles in 1976, and since then the band has released nine studio albums. Most recently, the band released this year's Echo, which is hailed as some of the band's best work. The band has been touring since early summer to support its new album, with a recent stop at Chicago's United Center on Oct. 7.
The band emerged on its psychedelic stage to the tune of "Jammin' Me," a song Petty co-wrote with Bob Dylan for the band's 1987 album Let Me Up (I've Had Enough). The quick, catchy song got the crowd excited and on its feet, and it set the stage for a memorable show.
Petty continued to play songs primarily from his Greatest Hits album. A fan who only owned that album would have known 11 of the 22 songs on the set list. Petty is a great performer, and he kept the crowd entertained between songs by introducing each song. For example, he remarked that most of the fans "weren't even born yet" before ripping into the 1978 classic "Listen To Her Heart."
The new album only had three of its songs played, including the least memorable of the show; guitarist Mike Campbell's "I Don't Wanna Fight," a half-hearted attempt at the teenage angst perfected by Nirvana. Petty knew the fans wanted to hear the classics and that was exactly what he delivered. The crowd had a chance to karaoke with "I Won't Back Down" and "You Don't Know How It Feels."
"It's Good To Be King" achieved new life on the stage, allowing the song to reach a level it hadn't reached on Petty's 1994 solo album Wildflowers.
"Don't Come Around Here No More" got rid of the backup singers that plagued the album version, making the song sound rougher, and much better, than the original. And a solo Petty, with only his guitar, sang the lines "and I can't hold out forever, even walls fall down" from 1996's "Walls" with new meaning during the show's acoustic set.
The band took a bow after "You Wreck Me," and the crowd started the chant for an encore.
The band took the stage again and saved its best for last. "Free Fallin," the biggest hit of Petty's career, sent the crowd into an uproar. Petty could hardly be heard over the fans singing. "Honey Bee," the night's loudest song, followed with Petty running around the stage like he was 25 years old again.
The band also covered Van Morrison's "Gloria" with Petty going into an improvisational rap, and although it wasn't as good as the original, Petty did one of his rock 'n' roll idols justice. The band ended the night with its classic "American Girl" from the Heartbreakers' 1976 self-titled debut. The band's oldest song of the night was definitely the biggest hit with the crowd.
Petty put on a great show and surely entertained the crowd throughout. After 23 years together, the band sounds like they are still having as much fun as ever with each other.
They played for close to 2 1/2 hours and gave the crowd exactly what it wanted. Like his fellow 50-something rocker Bruce Springsteen, Petty is still running around and showing the energy of a 20-year-old.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, October 12, 1999