Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers / Steve Winwood - Hartford, CT September 13, 2014 Live Concert Review and Photos

Somehow, with all the concerts I've been to, I had never seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers before Saturday September 13, 2014 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.

So what did I think?  Well you all know these songs:
I Need To Know
Listen To Her Heart
Here Comes My Girl
Even The Losers
Don't Do Me Like That
The Waiting
A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)
You Got Lucky
Change of Heart
Don't Come Around Here No More

Well sadly Tom and the boys don't remember these or much else from their first 10 or so years and 7 albums...

Yes, you read that correct...NONE of the above were played in the 18 song set last night.

The night started out good with opener Steve Winwood, so we had a double bill of Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductees(Winwood was inducted as part of Traffic).  The two acts would take on very different strategies in regards to their setlists.

Winwood opened with I'm a Man from his earliest days with The Spencer Davis Group and announced early on that his hour long set would be classics.  He was true to his word; His nine song set was almost all classics from his days with The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith.  His only 80's song was his number one hit "Higher Love" (He did not play his other number one hit "Roll with It" or "Valerie" and "Back in the High Live Again" which were also pretty big hits for him in the 80's.)  It was a strong opening set and  the crowd gave him thunderous applause and standing ovations numerous times through out (The first time three songs in after playing "Can't Find My Way Home") and at the end the whole audience stood up and applauded for almost a two full minutes as a beaming Winwood waved and thanked the crowd.

Here's the full set list:

I'm A Man (Spencer Davis Group)
Them Changes (Buddy Miles cover)
Can't Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)
Medicated Goo (Traffic)
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic)
Empty Pages (Traffic)
Higher Love
Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)
Gimme Some Lovin' (Spencer Davis Group)

Winwood's set ended at 8:30 and there was a half hour break until the lights went down on the packed house and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came out playing their cover of The Byrds "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star".  A good start to the night!

Now before I get more into the set let me say a few things that I had assumed.  I thought Petty was known for basically doing a greatest hits set.  I understood they have a new album out ("Hypnotic Eye") and actually everyone who bought a ticket got a free copy.  It's okay and I knew of course they would be playing stuff from it, just hopefully not much.  In that respect, they did fine.  They played four songs from it during the night, so they didn't beat us over the head with new material and it gave the heavy drinking crowd (The beer lines at this show were EPIC...Petty fans like to party) plenty of opportunites to pour out into the halls for beer and/or pee runs.

But back to my "Greatest Hits" set assumption.  I know they sometimes do theatre tours such as playing a run of shows at say The Beacon Theatre in New York City or the Fillmore in San Francisco and it's known during those shows the band will forego alot of hits and I say that's awesome.  I dig it when my fave bands do that when they let the ticket buyers know that's the score, but on this Saturday night I was looking to hear the classics...

Well that old adage of you know what happens when you assume came true...

So after the opener they brought out "Mary Jane's Last Dance" which is not a fave at all - but I can't complain, it was a giant hit and I knew I'd be hearing it..this went into the first new song of the night "American Dream Plan B"...okay fine...a pretty weak opening salvo, but not unexpected tunes.

Next up another okay one..."Into the Great Wide Open" and probably around this time I realized this was one mid tempo concert...but some of those old classics gotta be coming soon...

The second new song of the night followed, "Forgotten Man"...Song number six was SURE to be a Heartbreakers classic...

Well, no.

Instead we got two Tom Petty solo hits and honestly ones I dig.  "I Won't Back Down" into "Free Fallin"  Fair enough.  I dig 'em.  Good singalongs...

Now I've since found at this part of the night (8 songs in if you're keeping count) the band, which has so far not played any Heartbreakers material from the 70's or the 80's, will play "A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)" which would have been awesome.  Instead they said something about hoping the crowd doesn't have anywhere to go because it's going to be a late night and they might play anything tonight and busted out The Traveling Wilburys' "Tweeter and the Monkey Man."  They not only played this, but did a 10 minute long ass jam version of it that lost the whole crowd.


After that another new song "U Get Me High" and then Tom says he's switching to acoustic for a few songs which was so odd because if you look at this set list, so far basically NOTHING rocked.  It was so mid tempo adult contemporary so I'm not sure why they felt they needed to lower the volume more, but alas it was one of the highlights of the night when they played "Rebels" from 1985's "Southern Accents".  A great song and a great rendition (let me make it clear that Petty SOUNDS great and so does the band) and gave me hope that I might actually hear some of those songs I expected would be played on this night.

This was followed by another Petty solo track with "Yer So Bad", another decent song.

"Learning To Fly" followed and I dig this song too...three good songs in a row...we're starting to build something here...but instead we get another new tune with "Shadow People" followed by "I Should Have Known It" from The Heartbreaker's 2010 album "Mojo"

Then...finally...a true classic with "Refugee" which went into "Runnin Down A Dream" (granted another solo Petty song, but a great rockin one)...NICE...FINALLY I saw what I thought I would have found out about 80 minutes earlier...that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a ROCK BAND

Then the encore break...because why keep the excitement level going?

The crowd cheered and the band came back out with another Petty solo song in "You Wreck Me" (which I will say I love and was hoping they would play...I didn't think it would be a given they would play every solo Petty single instead of their own) and then the night ended with "American Girl" one of only three songs they played tonight from The Heartbreakers first seven albums (which is their entire 70's and 80's catalog).

Baffled and bummed was how I left this show.  I would love to hear from others that saw this tour.  Maybe if you're a super diehard fan you loved this setlist? The only thing I know is either I picked the wrong tour to see my first Petty show or maybe this is a standard tour setlist at this point and I missed the golden days by a few years.  I wouldn't go see him again unless I saw the setlist in advance and here's hoping that maybe in a year or two that greatest hits tour I was hoping for will come back around because I'll be there if it is.

Here's the setlist:
So You Want to be a Rock 'n' Roll Star (Byrds cover)
Mary Jane's Last Dance
American Dream Plan B 
Into the Great Wide Open
Forgotten Man 
I Won't Back Down 
Free Fallin' 
Tweeter and the Monkey Man (Traveling Wilburys cover)
U Get Me High 
Yer So Bad 
Learning To Fly
Shadow People 
I Should Have Known It
Runnin' Down a Dream 
You Wreck Me 
American Girl

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1 comment:

Color Kyle said...

Hey. I saw Petty and the Heartbreakers in the early 90s. So, that was before most of the songs they played this night were even written. Therefore, they played most of the songs on your "didn't play but wished they had" list. Guess what? The show still sucked. Not from a technical or ability standpoint, but from a lack of energy and a determination to stay mid-tempo the entire time. Either you and I had really bad luck twenty years apart or TP and boys are a lousy live band. Very surprising. They've got good songwriting, years of staying relatively relevant, a sound that SHOULD translate well live, and a pretty consistent line up that keeps them tight and time tested. Did the show really outright suck? No, I guess not. But it was a big "Eh, 's alright", which, with the expectations one brings quickly devolves into "They sucked." Surprising for sure. Live and learn.