Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers @ Riverbend (7/8/08)

I recently saw Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the Riverbend Music Center outside Cincinnati.  The opening act was Steve Winwood, a man I’ve wanted to see since 1994.  That’s when I missed out on seeing him open for the Grateful Dead as a member of Traffic.  His opening set at Riverbend was very impressive.  He’s 60 years old, but still sounds like he did as a teen in the Spencer Davis Group.  The highlight of his set (and the entire night) was hearing him sing one of my favorite songs, “Can’t Find My Way Home”.  Hearing the old Blind Faith song was one of the highlights of my entire concert-going career.  He also played classics like “I’m a Man”, “Higher Love”, “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, “Gimme Some Lovin'” and a few songs from his latest release, Nine Lives.  It rained from about the sixth song on, but stopped before Tom Petty took the stage.

The vast majority of the Tom Petty concert was fantastic.  The first six songs were incredible.  Unfortunately, he then fell into a three song rut.  I could write about all the highlights of the night, but that would take too long, so I have decided to write about these three “lowlights” instead.  These songs should be dropped from the setlist right now in favor of “The Waiting”, “Walls”, or just about anything off Wildflowers.  Here are the three low points of the concert:

  • “Sweet William” – This song is an old b-side from a single that’s long out-of-print.  Well, there’s a reason it was originally dumped onto a b-side, and there’s a reason it’s remained out-of-print.  The reason is this: it’s just not a very good song.  It features 2 minutes of lame, white-boy blues followed by 30 seconds of guitar rave-up.  Then there was some more lame white-boy blues and a bit more guitar rave-up.  The rave-ups were great, but the bluesy parts were incredibly boring.  It might be fun for the band to perform, but I found listening to be a chore.
  • “End of the Line” – This was one of my favorite songs by the Traveling Wilburys, so I was initially very excited to hear it.  I soon came to the conclusion that part of the song’s greatness was that the original featured lead vocals by George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison (in addition to Tom Petty).  The Heartbreakers tried to fill in for the missing Wilburys, but the results fell flat.  Oh well.
  • “Breakdown” – After a brief break for the band introduction, Tom Petty broke into a version of “Breakdown”.  It’s normally a good song, but this version was too long and boring.  I think there was supposed to be a jam in there, but it just sounded like lazy playing to my ear.  Zzzzzzz.

Right when I was beginning to lose interest, things started up again with “Saving Grace”, the lead track off 2006’s Highway Companion album.  The song featured a bit of an extended jam at the end, but unlike the one that ruined “Breakdown”, this one was actually interesting.  “Honey Bee” came next.  It’s an incredibly goofy song, but it managed to work.  Those two songs helped me regain my interest in the concert.  The rest of the show was solid and featured a non-stop run of hits that included “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “Refugee”, “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, and “American Girl”.  These songs more than made up for the few missteps from earlier in the evening.

Here’s the setlist written out for those of you who are interested in such things.  As you can see, “A Face in the Crowd” was not played.  There are some websites out there reporting that it was.  Those websites are written by idiots who were probably drunk at the show.

Main set: You Wreck Me/Listen to Her Heart/I Won’t Back Down/Even the Losers/Free Fallin’/Mary Jane’s Last Dance/Sweet William/End of the Line/(band intros)/Breakdown/Saving Grace/Honey Bee/You Don’t Know How It Feels/Learning to Fly/Don’t Come Around Here No More/Refugee

Encore: Runnin’ Down a Dream/Mystic Eyes/American Girl

All these people had better seats than I did.Hey, get those things out of here!Fake statues on the roofTom Petty setlist
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25 Responses to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers @ Riverbend (7/8/08)

  1. cat says:

    I went and saw Tom Petty and Bob Dylan once and the concert seemed to go for about three days. I think my husband had a nap.

  2. M-----l says:

    I like long concerts, but I have little use for extended live versions of songs that were short when they were originally recorded.I don't remember Petty and Dylan touring together recently. That must've been awhile back. The 80s? Of course, maybe you get different tours in Australia. I have no idea.

  3. cat says:

    Yes – would've been the mid 80's. lol – it was about the same time I went and saw Fergal Sharkey – ahh dear.

  4. M-----l says:

    I'm not sure who/what a "Fergal Sharkey" is. He/she/they must not have achieved enough American fame to earn a place in my memory. I'm just going to assume that Fergal Sharkey is a blemish on your otherwise hip list of concerts.

  5. cat says:

    I think he was irish. He was a bit of a one hit wonder. The name of that wonder escapes me at the moment. I'm sure it'll pop into my head in the middle of the night. My list of concerts is very small – I've always lived in the middle of nowhere and no bands want to go there. Except Charlie Daniels – don't know where he rates on the hip scale but it was a damn good day.

  6. I first heard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the student coffeehouse at the Davis campus of the University of California, back when he was still doing small clubs. (So yeah, I guess that makes me really old.) The version of "Breakdown" he sang back then drove the women in the audience absolutely berserk—he paused at the right moments, the bridges weren't too long, and he had this incredibly sexy grin when the women in the front row began screaming. I have often thought that stadiums make artists a bit lazy—the audience can hardly see me anyway, and I have a couple of hours to fill, so why bust my butt playing? The last Who concert I saw when the band was still intact, I thought Pete and Roger could have phoned in their performance. But I'm glad you enjoyed the concert. "American Girl" is one song I could listen to over and over again.

  7. M-----l says:

    This was my third Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers show. They're usually terrific live. The show I saw last week was just slightly inferior to the others I saw. Although I chose to concentrate on the negatives in this review, I was still very impressed with the overall concert. I had a good time. Although I didn't care for the version of "Breakdown", it probably had very little to do with Tom and the band. It probably had to do with all the loud, obnoxious drunkards surrounding me up on the lawn. Next time I'm springing for a proper seat.

  8. Jason says:

    How did the ever under-appreciated Mike Campbell sound that night?

  9. M-----l says:

    Oh, he was great. I always enjoy hearing him play. I wasn't aware he was under-appreciated, though.

  10. Nyght says:

    Jeff Lynne was the STAR of The Traveling Wilburys!
    Yes, I am a geeky longtime ELO fan and I don't mind admitting it.
    Glad you enjoyed the concert.

  11. M-----l says:

    I still pull out ELO's greatest hits from time-to-time. It always gets me dancing around and happy. I especially like the song that references all the classical composers in it. "Rockaria!", I believe it's called.

  12. Jason says:

    I don't think he gets his proper dues when it comes to geeky discussions about guitar players. But then again, there is a long list of guys who don't get the mass recognition they probably deserve (at least relative to the ones who do get recognized).

  13. M-----l says:

    I think that's probably true. I also think he'd get talked up a lot more if he didn't have dreadlocks. It's hard to get excited about a white dude with dreads. It's a terrible look…especially for a man just shy of 60.Of course, there I go again judging people based upon their appearances. I should just shut up, close my eyes, and listen to the music.

  14. Jason says:

    That's a solid point. Adam Duritz is pretty ridiculous with his dreads, and that choice of hairstyle may also have negatively affected Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum.Hey, maybe that's also why Jay Bennett got kicked out of Wilco. I think you're on to something…

  15. M-----l says:

    I don't usually admit it in public, but I actually like Counting Crows. It's hard to be a fan, though, with that fat dreadlocked douche dancing around onstage like an idiot. It seems to work for him; he scores chicks like crazy. I don't understand it.Oh, and Jay Bennett's awesome…dreads or not. I wonder what he's doing these days.

  16. Jason says:

    I agree on both counts. I actually dig the Counting Crows as well as they have some pretty solid songs in their catalog but they are unbearable live. And that is due solely to Duritz's stage over-the-top emoting and stage antics. How that guy ever gets laid…Jay is indeed the man. One of my favorite guitar players, the best Wilco shows I have been to were during the Jay era. That guy f'ing rocks.

  17. M-----l says:

    I'm with you on Jay Bennett. I first saw Wilco at a Cincinnati venue called Ripley's (now a Chipotle, I believe) back on the Being There tour. I still love Wilco, but they've gotten a bit pompous these days with all the poetic lyrics and guitar wankery. That Ripley's show was flat-out drunken rock 'n' roll…and a lot of that was Jay's doing. I followed his post-Wilco career through a few solo albums, but I don't think he's released anything in awhile.

  18. Jason says:

    I have The Palace at 4am and Bigger Than Blue, both of which didn't really do anything for me. Which was a surprise since I believe he contributed to much of the awesomeness of Being There and Summerteeth.A saw Wilco for the first time up in Towson, Md. (Recher Theater) after Summerteeth came out. Both Ken Coomer and Jay were still in the band and like you described, there were moments where it was just a great drunken rock show. I'll never forget them teasing the intro to "Won't Get Fooled Again" and right at the part where Daltrey would first scream "yeaaaaaaaaa!!!!!" the whole band dropped into the opening riff of "Outtasite (Outta Mind)." Chills…

  19. M-----l says:

    I enjoyed all of Jay's solo releases when they came out, but The Palace at 4am is really the only one I still listen to. The others are gathering dust. I saw Jay perform two solo shows around the time The Palace was released. He packed the venue the first time, but hardly anyone showed the second time through town. It was kind of sad.Your Wilco show sounds awesome. I heard them play all or some of "Won't Get Fooled Again" at Bogart's once. Cool.

  20. Karen Lynn says:

    Oh I love Charlie Daniels…I wonder if he is still touring? That must have been such a fun show!

  21. M-----l says:

    I think Charlie Daniels is on the state fair circuit these days. They don't mind if he opens and closes his set with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". He might even play it a third time as an encore.(I'm sure he has some other songs, but I can't think of them right now.)

  22. Karen Lynn says:

    LOL! Thats too funny because that is the song that is running around my brain right now, and has been since I read this early this morning! haha…I'll look for him at State Fair, I wonder if he was at Summerfest. You can obviously tell I don't get out much! hehe

  23. cat says:

    It was about twenty years ago – so no idea what he's doing now. But it was an outdoor all day long concert at a speedway. I think The Little River Band were there as well. Was a good day.

  24. Karen Lynn says:

    Oh gosh Little River Band too? Wow! Too bad we didn't have little digital camera's invented back then! Sounds like a fantastic day :))

  25. cat says:

    I still have the ticket actually. Australian Crawl were there as well, but I doubt you've heard of them unless you're australian. Cost me $10.

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