Petty satisfies teens
By Gary Graff
Pittsbergh Post-Gazette — August 5, 1981
Tom Petty understands his audience. At least, he seems to, and that was alright with about 7,000 of his fans at the Civic arena last night.
Those fans are teen-agers, and Petty sings of teen passions and frustrations. When they scream their agreement for a line like “sometimes this old town seems so hopeless” from “Here Comes My Girl,” you have to believe you know what he’s talking about.
There is a twist to this year’s version of Petty’s show, however. Songs like “American Girl” (the opener), “She Don’t Need You,” “I Got A Thing About You,” and “The Waiting” were statements of defiance and triumph. Petty’s found his satisfaction and he’s not going to lose it without a good fight.
Which he appears quite capable of. Last night, he came out like a gunfighter, rushing to greet the fans that crowded the aisles almost immediately, almost daring anything to come challenge his newfound contentment.
And the audience responded to the change quite well. There was still enough macho toughness to appeal to the males in the audience, while a pair of tight black jeans and a loose-fitting Hawaiian shirt pacified female interests.
Despite his confidence, hell, downright cockiness, Petty remains the rock ‘n’ roll innocent. There is no sex in his songs, jsut the pursuit of platonic romance. If Springsteen and Seger sing about the streets, Petty is singing about movie balconies.
So in all this teen-age revelry, what is there for the rest of the world? Some awfully good music, supplied with a punch by Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers.
There were outstanding moments, like Benmont Tench’s grand piano lead-in to “Woman in Love,” and an extended version of “Breakdown,” featuring Petty’s mock emotional breakdown and snippets of “Hit The Road, Jack.”
It was a little short, just over 90 minutes. It’s a tribute, not a slam, to say that Petty and his band could have played a good portion of the evening without getting stale.