Tom Petty sparks tumultuous show
By Lennox Samuels
The Milwaukee Sentinel — August 17, 1981
East Troy — It was like being in a seat that had an obstructed view. Every now and again, two young women would leap to their feat and whirl about by dervishes.
But then, that’s the kind of adulation that people’s champion Tom Petty now commands. The rock star and his Heartbreakers anchored a musical orgy with about 12,500 fans Sunday night at Alpine Valley Music Theater.
First on stage was the Naughty Sweeties, a feisty Los Angeles pop group that fought the audience’s indifference with a 40-minute set of solid rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll.
Led by lanky Ian Jack, the Sweeties forced the crowd to pay attention by ripping such songs as “My World” and “Ready, Steady, Gone.” Jack mounted a 20-foot high bank of speakers for the set’s climax, the angry indictment of L.A.’s jargon, “Tower of Babble.”
Then Petty and the Heartbreakers descended on the stage like the Light Brigade. Petty obviously was infused with the spirits, but that only made the show less inhibited.
Together with the Heartbreakers, a remarkably good live band, Petty brought the kind of immediacy that is the mark of only the best performers around.
With Mike Campbell’s bell-like guitar licks giving the concert the Heartbreakers’ familiar cacophonous sound, Petty and colleagues delivered fine versions of “Thing About You,” “The Waiting” and “Kings Road.”
Petty at once savored the tumultuous response and had fun with it. If the singer so much as walked toward one segment of the audience, excited fans screamed with delight. When the performer pointed his rhythm guitar, it was like he was giving divine benediction.
Petty and the Heartbreakers punched out rather brief but technically perfect songs, including “Here Comes My Girl,” “A Woman In Love” and the funky “Nightwatchman.”
All in all, one of the better shows we’re likely to see this year.