Happenings /// Tom Petty At Bridgestone Arena

IMG_9232 copyAs retrospect kicks in, I can see that my life, my personality, fixations, and perspectives, have been scribed in large part by my father’s obsessive collection of music. Everything in his life carries the mark of an album- rather than redundant psychoanalysis, my dad feeds me advice through Blonde on Blonde (“the greatest break up album after written,” he says), or reruns of The Last Waltz. When the 2003 critical disappointment Masked and Anonymous hit the silver screen, he dragged me and my brother to a small theater in Greenwich Village, excitedly pointing out the hidden ingenuities behind Dylan’s haphazard apocalyptic world. On weekends spent at his house, it was not uncommon to find him perched up his NYC business-suit attire, ambling through the entirety of The Dead’s “Tennessee Jed.” It only follows that the crooning harmonies of Dylan and Cash would leave him to one day abandon the rat race of Manhattan, and head south to the Nashville Skyline. In honor of the man who has painted my musical affinities, and led me, indirectly, to my passion for writing about it, we sent my father to the Bridgestone Arena to check out one of our all-time favorites: Tom Petty And The Heart Breakers. -EK

Read his review below :::

In 1986-87, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers toured the world with Bob Dylan. The Gainesville, Florida band, formed in 1976, backed Dylan ably, and interspersed their original heartland rock between his sets. Dylan introduced them as “one of America’s last great rock and roll bands.” And, at that time, in the 80’s, one could see his point; for that was a lackluster decade in American rock music. Almost no one was doing anything worthy of note. Dylan himself was making some of what many consider the weakest of his studio albums. Neil Young was disappointing his fans with synthesized techno rock and puzzling forays into country music. The Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, The Band – all of them were either outright gone or might as well have been as far as truly good new studio music was concerned.

 But, in the 80’s, there was Petty and his group and, though they were never at the height of American rock royalty, there they were, putting out solid original albums and hits – genuine, classic rock tunes played with expert musicianship.

 In the long run, Dylan was wrong; Tom and his cohorts were not one of America’s last “great” rock and roll bands. A resurgence was to come in the 90’s and beyond with groups like Wilco, the White Stripes, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Black Keys. But, unlike some of their peers from the 70’s and 80’s, The Heartbreakers have endured.

On September 23, Petty and the current cast of Heartbreakers (still including the originals, Mike Campbell on outstanding lead guitar and the masterful Bemont Tench on piano) brought their current tour to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The 64 year-old Petty and his boys rocked the house, putting on a strong, enjoyable performance. Opening with the Byrds’ “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” (Petty sounding much like his greatest influence, Roger McGuinn), they moved on through a litany of hits, including “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Into the Great Wide Open,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Fee Fallin’,” “Yer So Bad,” “Refugee,” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” and “American Girl.”

The set included some relatively inconsequential numbers from the band’s new release, “Hypnotic Eye” (e.g. “American Dream Plan ,” which Petty announced as “our new single,” followed by his observation that “I guess we really don’t have singles anymore … they used to have big holes n the middle”).

More inspiring were two songs performed with opening act, Steve Winwood, joining in (“Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Gimme Some Lovin”). (It should be noted that Winwood, leader of the legendary Traffic, performed a wonderful set of his own.)

All in all, this was a good, old-fashioned rock concert. Here’s the complete TP set list:

  1. American Dream Plan B
  2. Into the Great Wide Open
  3. Forgotten Man
  4. I Won’t Back Down
  5. Free Fallin’
  6. A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)
  7. U Get Me High
  8. Can’t Find My Way Home
  9. Gimme Some Lovin’
  10. Yer So Bad
  11. Learning to Fly
  12. Shadow People
  13. I Should Have Known It
  14. Refugee
  15. Runnin’ Down a Dream
  16. You Wreck Me
  17. American Girl

 –FK

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