Thursday, 17 May 2012 10:55
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been playing a few dates around the country, including two Florida shows, before starting a European tour. I caught the show in Estero, Fla., and it was a nice mix of old and recent material that allowed Tom and the band to stretch out some without ignoring the big hits.
Text and photos by John Davisson
The first hour was mostly Petty hits like “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Here Comes My Girl (and “Handle With Care,” a Traveling Wilbury’s hit). He also threw in the excellent “Listen to Her Heart,” which is not a hit but is still one of their classics. Then they loosened up with some blues and other recent material. They pulled out “Lover’s Touch” from the Mojo album; “I’m a Man,” a Bo Diddley cover; “Something Big” from the Hard Promises album; “Have Love Will Travel” from The Last DJ, which Tom introduced by saying “I dedicate this with all our love to the great Levon Helm;” and “Good Enough” from Mojo. Petty ditched his guitar for “I Should Have Known It” from Mojo. Other classics that popped up during the set included “Yer so Bad,” “Into the Great Wide Open” with Mike Campbell on mandolin, and “Good to be King.”
It’s obvious the band loves returning to Florida, and Tom was quite chatty during the show. After “Free Falling,” Petty quipped, “We’re having fun out here. You’ve got to love Florida.” During “Spike” from Southern Accents, Petty introduced the song with a long backstory about 441 and the Cypress Lounge, places I am familiar with since I live in Gainesville, Petty’s hometown. Petty said, “They've got robbers and killers and shrimp boat captains and guitar thieves in there,” a sly reference to the recent theft of some of his guitars during tour rehearsals, which were recently recovered.
By the time they finished with “Refugee,” and “Running Down a Dream,” they had totally put on a great show. They added “Last Dance With Mary Jane” and the classic “American Girl” for an encore.
More than 30 years after they migrated from Gainesville to California to form the classic line-up, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers proved they can still tear a joint down, even with a subdued light show and plain velvet curtain backdrop. There were no dancers, they didn’t need auto-tune, and there was no DJ filling out the sound. Just a band rocking out on guitar, bass, keyboards and drums on some of the best songs ever written. That’s all it takes.
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