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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Take a group that’s had a catalogue of hits for four decades, a great singer-songwriter and talented musicians and you’ve got the making of a great rock ’n’ roll story.

Tom Petty

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers kicked off their West coast tour last night at Rogers Arena and as a testament to their fan base, not a seat was to be found on Ticketmaster’s website in the hours leading to their show.

While Petty’s voice has seen a slow decline over the years, he’s still got the groove and his stage presence and well-loved tunes were what the fans came out to see, with The Lumineers opening.

Steve Ferrone
[Steve Ferrone]

Since their humble 1976 Gainesville, Florida beginning, the group’s kept the majority of its lineup intact. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were welcomed with a standing ovation, while Tom, in his typical understated tone, gently reminded the crowd that this is their 40th anniversary tour, “just in case you didn’t know”.

The show kicked off with the first song off their very first album, Rockin’ Around (With You). Midway through the second song, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, fans already began to realize that Petty and band are still as tight as ever, their sound thick and groovy.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
[Benmont Tench]

And on they went to play 19 songs. Not nearly enough hits were played as the number of Petty tunes has grown far too large for a two-hour set. We were missing 80’s numbers such as Don’t Do Me Like That, A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me), The Waiting, You Got Lucky, Here Comes My Girl, Even the Losers and Century City.

Highlights for me were Into to Great Wide Open, It’s Good to Be King and Learning to Fly, the latter a slow acoustic with the crowd in full participation/feel-good mode.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The night’s defining theme for the band: “Let’s have fun, play some great tunes and though we might not be that young anymore and need to slow down sometimes, we still love our audience.”

When the band started jamming and rocking out more in songs like I Should Have Known It, It’s Good to Be King and Refugee, all band members contributed, kept in check by the tight bandleader that Tom is.

Mike Campbell
[Mike Campbell]

Lead guitarist Mike Campbell still rocks and he knows it too, slowly strolling along the stage while humbly absorbing fan admiration.

The band’s two background singers, Charlie and Hattie Webb (aka England’s Webb Sisters), received a special recognition from Tom while introducing the band and rightly so. These ladies are at the top of their performance game, two voices blending in flawlessly without overpowering Tom’s vocals.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The show ended with two encores: You Wreck Me and likely the band’s most popular song, American Girl, leaving most fans satisfied, except for the guy behind me who wanted to hear Breakdown all night (sorry, dude).

The current tour continues with shows headed down the West coast (playing at Seattle’s Safeco Field tomorrow night, capping off with three shows in LA).

As we weren’t able to secure a photo pass for this show, these are photos of their current tour; all are property of tompetty.com.

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