Concert Reviews

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at 1STBANK Center, 4/19/12


TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS @ 1STBANK CENTER | 4/19/12

See Also: Sweet Tom Petty shirt, man: The shirts we spotted last night in the parking lot See Also: Michelle Bachmann plays "American Girl" after Tom Petty asks her not to See Also: (Review) Tom Petty at Mile High Music Festival 7/19/08

"Tonight, we thought it would be fun...," Tom Petty said a few songs into two-hour set, "we're going to go pretty deep into some deep tracks for you tonight." Sure enough, Petty & the Heartbreakers ran through a number of hits during the second night of the band's two-night stand, but they delved into a few rarities as well. Petty himself admitted later in the set that while people ask him all the time what his favorite song is that he's written, he answers, "There are far too many for me to pick out one, and they're very often not ones that were really well known."

[jump] Petty and company came out strong with "Listen to Her Heart," but there was a slight hiccup as they launched into "You Wreck Me," when Campbell broke a string on the opening chord. But the band was up and running in no time, and Campbell dug into one of many stellar solos of the night. "We were here last night and we had a great time," Petty said after "You Wreck Me," "and we're going to have an even greater time tonight." After delivering thoroughly solid takes on "I Won't Back Down" and "Here Comes My Girl," with the enthusiastic crowd singing along, Petty dedicated the Traveling Wilbury's cut "Handle With Care" "to all those Wilbury guys wherever they're traveling tonight." Guitarist/keyboardist Scott Thurston, who also did a damn fine job handling back-up vocals throughout the night, sang the Roy Orbison part. "I want to dedicate this song to just one of the greatest human beings that there ever was that passed away early this morning," Petty said, "and that is Levon Helm. We loved him dearly, and we're going to do this song that we never do. We probably don't know it very well, but you'll forgive us I'm sure."

With that, Petty and company offered up a gorgeous rendition "Best of Everything." Benmont Tench opened the song on piano, and when the band kicked into the chorus the lines, "Wherever you are tonight I wish you the best of everything in the world/And I hope you found, whatever you were looking for," seemed to resonate even more.

Petty said there were a few songs from 1981's Hard Promises that he always liked but never got to play very much, one of which was Southern rock-tinged "Something Big." He followed with "Have Love Will Travel," another deep cut from 2002's The Last DJ. When Petty sang, "How about a cheer for all those bad girls," there were a ton of screams from the crowd, followed by the line "And all the boys that play that rock and roll," which also received a loud roar. Petty then introduced the band, which also included bassist Ron Blair and drummer Steve Ferrone. A few moments later, Campbell yells into Petty's microphone, "How about Tom!" Petty then covered his face with his hands, almost like he was embarrassed. The crowd erupted as Petty strummed the opening chords of "Free Fallin'" on his sunburst Rickenbacker. It was of many hits of that night that had the crowd singing along. By the time Petty and the Heartbreakers were halfway through the set, they'd gone through about an equal number hits as deep cuts. While Petty couldn't go wrong with the hits, most of which have been embedded in the fabric of rock and roll, the lesser-known tracks were sometimes just as compelling. Take "Spike" for example. Right after the band launched into the song, Petty said he wanted to tell a real quick story:

"I wrote this song about something that happened to me a long long time ago," he said. "And it was actually down in Gainesville, Florida. I was just sitting on the side of the road, just leaning against a car. It was a really hot day, and Florida can get really hot. And I just happen to be across the street from the worst bar in the state of Florida. This bar was called the Cypress Lounge. I'd never been in the Cypress Lounge. The word was never ever go in the Cypress Lounge.

"And I see this guy walking down the street and it's the middle of the day and the sun is out. And he's got leather motorcycle boots, got leather pants on. Got a leather motorcycle jack with chains that hang down. And most importantly a dog collar.

"So imagine my surprise when this fellow makes a right and goes straight into the Cypress Lounge. Well, I said I got to see this. So I walk in behind him. And you know, I came out of the bright sun and it took me a minute to get my eyes situated to the light. All I could see was the glow of the jukebox in back and some of the scariest people I'd ever seen in my life. Oh man, these were mean people. These were hijackers, kidnappers, ruthless killers. There were guitar thieves in there," which was a reference to the guy who stole five of the band's guitars last week from the rehearsal space in Culver City, all of which were recovered a few days ago.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon