Time Out: Petty lights a fire – finally
By Doug McDaniel
The Courier – May 29, 1987
PHOENIX — Tom Petty appeared to be a little depressed in front of a typically small Wednesday night crowd of 5,000 at the Arizona State University Activity Center.
After all, his house burned down last week.
The show, billed as the “Rock & Roll Caravan,” featured Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Georgia Satellites, the Del Fuegos and an unprecedented number of cigarettes smoked by the various members of each band.
It took awhile for Petty and his hard pop consortium to set a fire under the crowd, but they eventually did burn the house down.
The key moment early in the Heartbreakers’ show was when Petty mentioned the torching of his home, saying, “Somebody came over to my house and burned it down.”
But then he raised his guitar and said, “But they didn’t burn this.” He then launched into a solo effort of “The Waiting.” From that point on, Petty appeared to be the genuine article and the early doldrums were forgotten.
A little later, Petty poked his musical barbs at beloved Arizona governor Evan Mecham (a performer’s must these days.) First, he asked, “What’s a matter with the governor here? They are talking about him everywhere.” Then, he played the Buffalo Springfield classic, “For What it’s Worth,” a 1960s protest song adding to the emotional depth of the occasion.
While the show’s pacing may have seemed haphazard (Petty admitted the band’s hadn’t prepared a song list), the disorganization eventually added to the spontaneity. He spiced his familiar repertoire of dependable, familiar songs by including several covers. The band played a reverberating version of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and piled on “So you Want to Be a Rock’n’Roll Star” during the encore.
Most of the Petty favorites were played: “I Need To Know,” “Listen To Her Heart,” “Spike,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Refugee,” “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even The Losers.” The newer material from his recent album, “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough),” was especially well-played.
The showstopper was the relentless “Jammin’ Me,” a propulsive yet simple song which, on this occasion, listed Mecham as one of the people they should “take back.”
The Satellite’s success was more immediate in terms of audience response. The band’s rockabilly, though hardly gifted in a musical sense, was nevertheless engaging in its own elemental way.
The Del Fuegos also contributed a competent set in front of the early arrivals. The band’s enthusiastic get down and dirty style translated well in the big arena, and for an opening act in a three-ring garage rock circus, the Del Fuegos rocked with a funky vehemence.