Tom Petty delivers the goods for Providence
By Colin Woodard
The Tufts Daily — Monday, February 5, 1990
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers treated the crowd at Thursday night’s Providence show to an enjoyable evening tour of Petty’s quarter-century accumulation of southern rock. Petty, confident and comfortable, sang from a stage adorned with medieval glaves, pillar-sized pole arms, a full suit of armor and a stuffed polar bear.
“Tonight is Mike Campbell’s birthday,” declared Petty early on at the spotlight passed over to Campbell, the Heartbreaker’s lead guitarist. “Anything can happen on Mike’s birthday.”
A lot did happen on Mike’s birthday, so much that many were curious if the lead guitarist would be celebrating another birthday when the band comes to Boston this month.
Birthday or not, the theme was Full Moon Fever, Petty’s latest released, which has sucked him back onto the rock and roll scene after almost a three year break. Petty played a variety of material — new and old — including “Refugee,” “Free Falling,” and his cover of “American Girl.”
Following the Full Moon motif, during “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” Petty battled a suit of armor, which, after several gestures of his guitar, fell dead as the song ended. The crowd applauded his victory.
At one point, Petty opened an onstage chest, which emanated a blinding light. Reaching in, he pulled out a black top hat, his concert hallmark, which he wore for the duration of “Breakdown,” one of the singles from his first LP in 1976. Later the group played an improvised boogie-woogie tune in honor of Campbell’s birthday.
Petty has entered the nineties with a cause: Greenpeace is given quite a billing (“…make up your own mind, but for God’s sake see what it’s about first…”) and followed it up with a dedication to Greenpeace and environmental consciousness.
But beyond Greenpeace, Mike’s alleged birthday, and animated field plate, Petty was true to form — rock and roll: rough, tough, energetic and hard as nails.
Lenny Kravitz opened for the Heartbreakers with a loud set of 60s-style rockers delivered in Hendrix-Prince fashion. Kravitz, best known as Lisa Bonet’s husband, used his reggae curls as a prop once to often. He tried to make the audience believe he was more excited than he actually was, and ended up looking foolish as he fell into Hendrix-Prince spasms of exhaustion during the third song of his set.
“Remember,” says Kravitz, “it’s not 1960 — it’s nineteen f–king ninety!” It’s nice of him to remind us what decade we’re in, but judging from his performance, Lenny Kravitz may have been the only person in the Providence Civic Center who had a hard time keeping it straight.