Heartbreakers, Replacements Play Great Rock
By George Smith
The Morning Call — August 31, 1989
The “old” Replacements showed up to open for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at the Fairgrounds last night. From a purist’s standpoint it was great rock ‘n’ roll, from a Petty worshiper’s view it was maddening and if you were in the band . . . it was understandable.
However, it didn’t start out that way. The ‘Mats seemed genuinely charged up when they hit the stage, opening with “Tommy Got His Tonsils Out” from “Let It Be.” “Color Me Impressed,” “Bastards of Young,” and that other song from “Let It Be” (which can’t be mentioned in a family newspaper) followed. Singer Paul Westerberg then downshifted into the poignant “Skyway” as the show unraveled.
Visibly annoyed by the crowd’s constant screaming for the headliner, the band transformed “I’ll Be You” from “Don’t Tell A Soul” into a two-beat crawl. The audience failed to see the novelty and The ‘Mats wrapped with a ragged version of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” which was brought to a grinding halt when Westerberg spiked his guitar into his amplifier and drummer Chris Mars kicked his kit off the stage.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were great rock ‘n’ roll too, but for different reasons. The band’s obvious strengths are maturity and an arm load of great songs. However, The Heartbreakers live go way beyond that. After being around for more than a decade, Petty still carries it all off with an air of freshness and wonderment that belies his massive reputation.
Opening with “Refugee” from their landmark album, “Damn The Torpedoes,” Petty and company supplied the hits the crowd wanted to sing. Highlights? There were many. Mike Campbell’s guitar sound was impeccable, planting Petty’s tunes and allowing the rhythm work of the singer’s own guitar, bassist Howie Epstein, and drummer Stan Lynch to pack a wallop that made the materials’ disarming hooks all the more engaging.
The songs from the recent “Full Moon Fever,” which got the best reaction, were “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Yer So Bad.” Many in the audience seemed to reach a kind of personal epiphany during Petty’s solo rendition of “The Waiting” from the “Hard Promises” LP. And that’s all The Heartbreakers could have asked for.
An estimated crowd of 8,000 attended the Makoul Production.