Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Monday Morning Stories FLASHBACK

The news of Tom Petty's unfortunate passing on Monday sent me looking into the archives, and I found what I was looking for:  My review of when I saw Tom Petty in concert.  Enjoy.

MONDAY MORNING STORIES WITH MOOKIE - Episode 115

The Time Mookie Saw Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers In Concert

A few years back, I was lucky enough to come into a pair of tickets to see the legendary Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers when they rolled through my fair city. I LOVE Tom Petty, so I was pretty excited at this opportunity. As I got the tickets only a few days before the show, I knew I'd have limited options in finding a companion who could actually go to the show. Luckily my pal "Junior*" was available, so I knew we'd have a great time as we have attended multiple shows together.

Upon arriving at the venue, we quickly found our seats and made sure we each had an ice-cold hops and barley flavored beverage before the show started. The energy coming off the crowd was electric, and was something I haven't witnessed/felt too many times in all my years of going to concerts. Finally it was time for the opening act to start the show, and the crowd voiced their approval when the arena lights went down. 

The opening act was a woman named Mavis Staples. If you are like me, you are probably going "Who??" I had no idea who she was, and later found out she is a very well-known blues and gospel singer, and has actually sang with like everybody in the music business. The most fun fact I found was that she is the one that sings the song "Christmas Vacation" at the beginning of the "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" movie. When the lights went up, this band of homies hit the stage playing jive music similar to that you might hear if "Shaft" walked in or if there was an "adult movie" playing. Then out of the wings came Mavis Staples, and this old gal was "scatting" and bee-bopping along with the band like nobody's business. She wasn't even singing but the crowd up front was going nuts. Everyone I was sitting around though was looking at each other like "What the hell is this?" Once Mavis got going and 
Mavis Staples bringing the funk.
actually started singing, she was pretty good but it was hard to understand her due to the sound system being set too loudly for her. She continued for a few more songs and then introduced the members of her band. She then left the stage and let each band member take their turn "getting down" during brief solos. 

Admittedly for me, this was the BEST part of the opening act. The bassist (a big Asian guy) started thumping the bass like a bad ass, then the guitarist started "funking it up" something awesome. They were going back and forth playing a blues and funk combo that was over the top. Then the drummer came in at the end over top of them both with a solo of his own, and decimated the place. It was all outstanding. Then all together they "brought the funk back" while Mavis rolled her old ass back out on stage and finished up her set by playing the old classic "I'll Take You There." The crowd on the floor went nuts when she was finished, and gave her a standing ovation. Later, I was informed by a co-worker that Mavis used to tour with Bob Dylan, and apparently did a Bob Dylan song during her set (I missed that as I couldn't understand a damn word). It made me wonder if when she tours with Bob Dylan she does Tom Petty covers. Intriguing thought.

The lights went up and the stage was re-set by the roadies for Tom Petty. The arena began to fill up to capacity and you could feel the excitement in the air. Finally at about ten to nine, the lights went down and it was time for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers to take the stage.

After a minute or so of complete darkness on the stage, a lone empty spotlight shone down and illuminated a lone microphone stand at the front of the stage. The crowd - already at a fevered pitch - got louder at the sight of the spotlight and eagerly anticipated what would be coming next. Without warning, a dark shadowy figure with blond hair and holding an electric guitar stepped into the spotlight. Just as the crowd began to cheer this, the figure played the unmistakable intro riff to the song "American Girl" on his guitar. The crowd went ballistic. A second later, all the stage lights went up revealing Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers as they kicked into aforementioned song. The band sounded tight and the acoustics in the arena were much better than they were for Mavis Staples. The next song they played was "You Don't Know How It Feels," and the entire crowd was on their feet singing along with all the words. The crowd volume got especially loud during the chorus while singing "so let's roll another joint" part. 

He continued on and did a mess of hits: "Free Fallin'," "Even The Losers," "You Got Lucky," and "Mary Jane's Last Dance" were amongst the set list. He even broke out a few newer songs including "The Last DJ" and a few he said he hadn't even recorded yet. In a surprising move he even did a Traveling Wilburys song, "End of the Line."

The backdrop to the stage was a large white screen, and from time to time images were projected onto it that "complimented" whatever song they were playing. During the song (and crowd favorite) "Free Fallin,'" colored raindrops fell down the screen. 
Petty showing everyone how to "fly."

Every so often when Petty would address the crowd, the audience would in turn vocally show their appreciation for him in a way I don't see very often at concerts. He clearly held many people captive by his presence alone and it was amazing to see. He continued his set by playing a slower version of the song "Learning to Fly" that was just incredible. He immediately picked the pace of the show back up by playing a rocking version of "Refugee," and then wrapped up the set with a rowdy version of  "Runnin' Down a Dream." 

The crowd who had been on their feet for the entire show demanded an encore, and of course they came back (does any band not do encores?). They did an uptempo 1950's style song that I didn't know, and then really cranked it up to end the show with "You Wreck Me."

Once the show ended and the band took their bows, you could tell the audience was still wanting more. This was evident because when the arena lights all came back on signalling the show was over, the crowd let out a resounding "ohhh." I felt the same way.

While the show was solid and tight, I'm sure some of the fans missed some of Petty's hits that they didn't play. This is understandable though because if the guy played ALL his hits, the show would have been over 3 hours long easy. My only misgiving was that the radio had played the live version of his song "Breakdown" all week prior to the show, and I was looking forward to the "sing-along" portion they did.  Alas it never happened as they didn't play the song. Even still, the guy and the band put on a HELL of a show and was very much worth the price of admission.



Without a doubt, I would recommend a Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers show to anyone looking for a great concert. The guy has hits that go on forever and a band that rocks.


(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent

No comments :

Post a Comment