Lenny Kravitz Doesn’t Rule, Tom Petty At His Peak
By Amy Longsdorf
The Morning Call — February 10, 1990
During his opening set Tuesday night at Philadelphia’s Spectrum, Lenny Kravitz, sporting granny glasses and dreadlocks, sang songs of peace, love and understanding. Unfortunately, the singer’s well-meaning anthems — such as “Freedom Train” and “Does Anybody Out There Even Care” — have scant melodic content and little subtlety. Nearly every number in Kravitz’ 35-minute set was punctuated by “Hey Jude”-like primal screams and fuzzy, meandering guitar solos. Worse yet was Kravitz’ cockamamie cover of Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9,” which only widened the gap between the singer and his musical heirs.
The finest moments of Kravitz’ set came during slow-groovers like “My Precious Love” and especially the title track of his debut LP, “Let Love Rule,” perhaps the singer cut his insinuating five-member back-up band more slack. Karl Dennison’s saxophone solos and keyboardist Ken Crouch’s organ pounding represented some of the evening’s high points.
Petty, on the other hand, is clearly at the peak of his powers as a singer and a songwriter. Playing with his longtime co-horts, the Heartbreakers, the singer moved easily from jingle-jangle folk to free-wheeling rock ‘n’ roll.
Petty chose well from his extensive catalog. There were just enough crowd favorites, like “Breakdown,” “Free Fallin'” and “Refugee,” to balance some of the less-familiar, more-offbeat numbers, such as the lovely “Face In The Crowd.” Bravo to Petty and band for a two-hour show completely lacking in cliche and pretense.