Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers At the Prudential Center, Friday, June 17th, 2017, Reviewed
There are few more dependable acts in rock and roll than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. When you see them, you know what you’ll get: A band that’s tight with superb musicianship, most of the hits, a few deep track, and a great time. Friday night’s show at the Rock was no exception.
Petty opened was a somewhat obscure number, “Rockin’ Around With You”, the first track from their first album. It’s an immature song, not up the quality of his others. Probably played for nostalgia. A few other rarities: “Forgotten Man”, a story of our neglected veterans, from Mojo; “Walls” from the She’s the One soundtrack, and “Yer So Bad” , a fun song from Full Moon Fever.
No covers tonight, which was a little disappointing. However, the hits that were played were done with passion, gusto, and a tremendous sense of fun. Mike Campbell is a virtuoso on the guitar, Ben Tench and Steve Ferrone are masters. Ferrone really showed his chops when the last verse of “Free Fallin’” changes to march tempo. A surprise was the addition of two female background singers, the Bell sisters. They added a richness to the sound, but unlike other bands who expanded their lineups it wasn’t that the principle singers are too lazy or too old to hit the notes. I saw an old interview with Petty where he turned down Stevie Nicks’s offer to the join the band by telling her basically “no girls allowed”. I guess he changed his mind.
The opening act was Joe Walsh. Unfortunately we missed the first 20 minutes of his set. (My fault- shouldn’t have ordered the whole baked snapper for dinner- took too long to prepare). When Joe played his familiar hits he was lots of fun; however a long instrumental jam was pretty pointless. Joe does make an all-world guitar face.
40 years of touring has not dimmed Tom Petty’s joy and enthusiasm for his music, and I felt lucky, babe, to be able to witness it. He never mails it in.
Grade: A (as in always)