Tom Petty at Bonnaroo

Let’s talk about the Grade ‘A’ Live American Rock & Roll experience. If you’ve seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers live, you know what I mean. Tom is the quintessential frontman: energetic, upbeat, and engaging. He immediately endears himself to any audience you put in front of him. I’ve seen them a number of times over the years: Milwaukee, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix; and my favorite one: front and center at The Joint inside Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in 2000 (the day after he got married).

This past weekend, TP and the Heartbreakers headlined the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. I was happy to hear this, because it exposes the Heartbreakers to a whole new demographic. There are tons of younger people out there who now understand the genius of Petty. A big part of the greatness of his live show is his “give the people what they want” philosophy. He has an extensive catalog of hits to choose from, and he definitely delivers them, blow after blow. Artists I admire like Springsteen and Prince, both amazing live performers, are much more selective in unearthing their past ‘hits’ to live audiences. They’re interested in their latest material, and focus on the here and now, many times overlooking crowd favorites of the past. Not to mention that Bruce completely reconfigures his live show; his last two tours have been solo acoustic (behind ‘Devils & Dust’) and the folk hootenanny juggernaut that is his current tour with the Seeger Sessions Band.

Maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges, but Tom Petty delivers his hits, and the audience responds every time. His music is comfort food. It’s familiar, uplifting, and brings back good memories.

On July 25th, Petty will release ‘Highway Companion‘, another Jeff Lynne production. Lynne (formerly of Electric Light Orchestra and the Travelling Wilburys) also produced ‘Full Moon Fever’ and ‘Into the Great Wide Open’. I, for one, like the vibe Jeff Lynne puts forth. ‘Full Moon Fever’ and the two Travelling Wilburys albums are some of my favorites. So I’m looking forward to this release. The first single, “Saving Grace”, is streaming on his web site as we speak (he also played it at Bonnaroo).

Back to Bonnaroo. One of these years I’m going to make it out there. This seems like the festival for me (along with New Orleans Jazz Fest). So for those who weren’t lucky enough to be hanging out in the Tennessee countryside watching Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, we’ll just have to settle with this… oh, and did I mention that Stevie Nicks joined in on a few tunes? Yep, including a great version of “Insider”, from my favorite Petty album, ‘Hard Promises‘.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Bonnaroo Music Festival
June 16, 2006

  1. Listen to Her Heart
  2. You Don’t Know How it Feels
  3. I Won’t Back Down
  4. Free Fallin’
  5. Saving Grace – New song
  6. Last Dance with Mary Jane
  7. I’m a Man – Bo Diddley cover
  8. Oh Well – Fleetwood Mac cover
  9. Handle with Care – Travelling Wilburys
  10. Stop Dragging My Heart Around *
  11. I Need to Know *
  12. Melinda – New song
  13. Insider *
  14. Learning to Fly
  15. Don’t Come Around Here No More *
  16. Refugee
  17. Running Down a Dream
  18. You Wreck Me (cuts off before the end, sorry)
  19. Mystic Eyes – Van Morrison cover
  20. Gloria * – Van Morrison cover
  21. American Girl *

* Joined by Stevie Nicks.


  • B2

    Pete, I agree with you 100% about Tom Petty… What a fantastic performer. I disagree with your comment about Prince, though. I’ve only seen him twice, but both times he played all “the hits”… albeit in abbreviated form. But, hey… for the casual listener, this was a real treat.

    I’ve never made it to Bonnaroo or the New Orleans Jazz Festival, either. Two others that I would put on the “to do” list are Waukarusa in Lawrence, KS, and the ACL Fest in Austin. So much good music!!!

  • Pete

    Hey Brian, Yeah I see your point with Prince. I guess I was thinking back to the most recent show I saw, right after he released ‘The Rainbow Children’. There was a lot of focus on those tunes, and yeah, when he does bust out the hits, he seems to ‘medley-ize’ them too much, which is too bad. I always hated it when he shortened “Purple Rain”. It just isn’t the kind of tune that can be abbreviated in any way, it doesn’t do it justice.

  • Dan

    He is the greatest! He is one of the few artists that can write hit after hit in the true Rock and Roll vernacular of a true mix of blues and country.

    There is such a knowing sound in his voice. When he sings a tender song it sounds like it comes from someplace deep inside himself. And when he sings an angry song, he sounds damn angry. STOP DRAGGIN MY HEART AROUND!

    And he is truly gracious. I saw him last summer at Jones Beach and after every song he said a heartfelt “thank you very much, thank you everyone” or something similar that went beyond just “thank you”. And after the final encore as the lights went up and the audience was getting up to go, he stood center stage and said “I just want to say thank you so much for coming out tonight”.

  • DudeAsInCool

    i’ve been watching the ATT videotape coverage of Petty’s concert – it’s killer. Surprisingly, you were the only site I could find on the web that provided full coverage, which is a shame – he absolutely knocked this audience out.

    Nice site, btw, ick 🙂

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