Errols Weekly Music Update.

June 19, 2008

Concert Review- Tom Petty & Heartbreakers with Steve Winwood at MSG- 06/17/08

Concert review- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers along with opening act Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday June 17, 2008

My brother and I purchased these tickets more than a few months ago and I had June 17 circled on my calendar with an exclamation point. Couldn’t wait to go. My thinking going in was, how could you top this show? You have two legendary icons sharing the greatest stage in the entire world. (I know I keep saying that the Garden is the best stage to see a show but now I have proof- jumping ahead a bit, when Petty took the stage, the crowd kept letting them know how appreciative they were for the performance that he & the Heartbreakers were putting on, Mr. Petty looked up into the crowd and said “This may be the best room for rock and roll on the planet.”) Everyone knows how I feel about Mr. Winwood, I can’t say enough about how great this man is. But you know what? He just didn’t have it as the opener. And when Petty and the Heartbreakers took the stage the entire mood of the show shifted into cruise control, they brought down the house.

Now for those of you who have been following along my reviews, they are usually positive. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you should not go to see Steve Winwood whenever you have the opportunity. No, it was just that he didn’t have it that night. Heck, if you get three hits out of every ten at-bats, you’re considered royalty in baseball; you get my point? Far be it for me to say how it should have gone but if I were Mr. Winwood’s manager, I would have suggested playing as many of his hits as possible with the short time period that he was given. I totally understand he was out there to promote his new album “Nine Lives.” But in my opinion to get people to listen to your new songs, they have to be familiar with your classic tunes; especially in a big arena. The “die-hards” will go to the smaller venues and appreciate your new stuff. Here’s your opportunity to add more people to your smaller venues and again in my opinion, he did not do that. Believe it or not there were many people there who were unfamiliar with his work. Now he did an excellent version of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Had to Cry Today.” However even in those songs, it appeared that he was going through the motions. He seemed so laid back that I had the feeling that he needed Mr. Clapton out there to pick up his game. (If you remember back to my review of their show in February, I stated that Clapton was so great that night because he knew he couldn’t phone it in with Steve on the stage with him). Then when he did “Higher Love”- he changed the sound so much that I felt like I was in the Caribbean, (and this is not a bad thing but we were at the Garden). And it just dragged on too long. So all in all, not one of Mr. Winwood’s better nights, but hey we all get a mulligan, right?

Now when Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers took the stage, you could feel the energy level rise and very quickly if I may say. The stage was loaded with amplifiers and cables- so much that there looked to be very little room for the band. For most of the night, it looked like if Petty took one more step, he would have fell off the stage. A classic look, kind of reminded me of the cover of the Who’s “Who are You” album. But high above them was technology at it’s best. For those of you who have kids, it looked like a transformer was hovering over them. The “face” of this transformer had a semi circle with three or four screens that highlighted the different band members. Then there were three “cube like” screens, hanging from the ceiling. (reminded me of the cubes that are in the children’s game – “Don’t Break the Ice”). So you had the old- the stage- and the new- the aerial screen show. Now Petty did not have a new album to promote but that did not mean he did not mix up the set list with some obscure songs because he did. However his library is so extensive that it is almost impossible to not know at least 80% of what he will perform. Talk about a sing along night? Has to be right up there with the Springsteen shows. Now if you have never seen Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers live, you really need to review your priorities.

The show started off with “You Wreck Me” from his solo Wildflowers album-an upbeat rocking song. It then slips right into one of my personal favorites- “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” Love the riff in the song. “.. I don’t know but I’ve been told you never slow down, you never grow old. Tired of screwing up…” The whole audience is singing word for word. The crowd is jubilant and is screaming “Petty, Petty, Petty” in between songs. He was blown away by the response and most appreciative of the feedback. The opening chords from “I Won’t Back Down” is heard and you could feel the roar of the crowd and everyone is ready to belt out “Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out.. I won’t back down.”

“Even the Losers” took me back to 1979 when “Damn the Torpedos” was released. I love going back in time, ahh the memories. Then it was on to arguably his most popular song- “Free Falling.” If you happened to be walking outside the Garden when this song came on, you had to hear the audience singing it. I actually pulled out my cell phone (I know-everything that I’m against) and called my best friend John and let him listen to his favorite Petty song. The shows next two songs were lesser known but still rocked the house. “Cabin Down Below” and “Sweet William” were excellent and from Sweet William onwards this is where Mike Campbell took over the show. This unsung axeman lies in the shadows of many other more popular guitarists but let me tell you- this man can shred. Staying on the subject of the band members- the drummer Steve Ferrone- kept the train a rollin’ with his excellent skills on the skins. And Benmont Tench on organ, piano and synthesizer was also awesome. The band went into Tom’s favorite Traveling Wilbury song- “End of the Line.” How can anyone not like the Traveling Wilbury’s? It’s impossible.

Afterwards, Mr. Petty called out Mr. Winwood to join the band and they blasted their way to two of Winwood’s classic tunes- “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Gimme Some Lovin”. Ahh retribution- I looked over to my brother and said “Now that’s the Winwood I know.” To watch Campbell and Winwood share guitar solos back and forth was awesome. Then when Steve took to the piano/organ on “Gimme Some Lovin’” the entire Garden was really rocking. It was an awesome moment and feeling. At this moment the entire band had “caught the wave” and rode that wave for the rest of the show. It was a pure hit fest as the crowd sang along to such favorites as “Learning to Fly” “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “Refugee.” My favorite song of the night was “You Don’t Know How it Feels”- makes me want to play harmonica and the drums- how cool is the groove in this song? The band came back out for the frenzied crowd and did three encores: “Running Down a Dream” “Mystic Eyes”- which I believe was a cover from Stack Waddy back in 1971 and then “American Girl.”

So Petty and his mates blew the cover off the ball. This was a great show and I’m begging you to see him before he decides to retire. Hopefully this doesn’t happen because you can tell that this is what he and his band mates love to do. They love music. It’s in them. It’s in me. Is it in you? Go out and enjoy!!!


1 Comment »

  1. Countin’ the hours till next Wednesday night @ the Hollywood Bowl…. got the tix for my wife’s b’day, also takin’ our 16 year old daughter who watches the baby video’s of her swingin’ in her chair to “just a face in the crowd” and “free fallin'”

    Petty is the LAST great band I have yet to see! I was renewed in my interest to see them when I heard them backing JOHNNY CASH on “unchained” UNBELIEVABLE!

    Comment by Brad — June 20, 2008 @ 9:21 am

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