Cleveland Scene — June 25, 1987

Livewire
By Marc Holan
Cleveland Scene — June 25, 1987

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Georgia Satellites, Del Fuegos | Blossom | June 23
Like the old package tours of the ’50s, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Caravan” rolled into Blossom Music Center last Tuesday night and proceeded to send stock in guitar manufacturing companies through the roof. It wasn’t just that all three bands performing that night depend on guitars for their power, but that the guitar is used as THE only true rock ‘n’ roll instrument. Without the guitar, there would have been no rock ‘n’ roll.

Tom Petty came on stage to a tumultuous ovation, and from the moment he and the Heartbreakers broke into “Breakdown,” it was obvious this was going to be a special performance by a band that has long been a northeastern Ohio favorite. Playing a good mix of old and new songs, Petty sang them with both passion and vigor, two ingredients that are sorely lacking in most rock acts today.

Tom Petty has never been a particularly political songwriter, but he took this opportunity to talk about Ronald Reagan and the P.T.L. “This is a great country,” he said before breaking into a solo version of “The Waiting,” “and there are some bad things going on. I can see them from the window of my tour bus — homeless people, the unemployed and nuclear reactors.” It’s clear that Petty’s recent friendship with Bob Dylan has made him more aware of social issues. It wasn’t out of place in a rock concert, but it did seem slightly forced coming from a rock ‘n’ roller like Petty.

The two biggest surprises of Petty & the Heartbreakers’ two-hour set were their versions of the Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” Instead of slavishly copying those two “oldies,” they gave new life and meaning to the words of two songs that came from opposite ends of the musical spectrum.

In the end, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ performance that night reaffirmed their fans’ belief that there is more to rock ‘n’ roll than guitar, bass and drums. In the hands of Petty & the Heartbreakers, rock ‘n’ roll becomes music with conviction.

The Georgia Satellites, on the other hand, don’t send any political messages to the audience. It’s all gut-level raunch ‘n’ roll when the Satellites crank out southern anthems like “Battleship Chains” and “Railroad Steel.” Vocalist-guitar Dan Baird is about as hick as they come, but what better type to deliver the shotgun wedding theme of “Keep Your Hands To Yourself,” the Satellites’ chart-topping hit of last year. Lead guitarist Rick Richards lived up to his last name, putting on a show of axemanship that would make Keef proud. All in all, the Georgia Satellites delivered one fine opening set that night, and if you’re still not a believer, check these guys out the next time they barnstorm through the area. They are definitely not to be missed. Yahoo!

Del Fuegos, forever the critics’ favorites, had a rough time of it as the opening band for the openers. Vocalist-guitarist Dan Zanes’ monotonous, nasal droning got on your nerves after about the third song, and though they’ve improved a bit since they last played the area, my guess is that the Del Fuegos have yet to fully mature, both as songwriters and performers.

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