Tom Petty stays with the basic, his music
By Tim Azinger
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — September 16, 1991
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are what rock ‘n’ roll is all about — music.
There’s no controversy to overshadow the band’s reputation or detract from their performance. They simply get on stage and play, as they did at Star Lake Amphitheater last night.
The Heartbreakers are celebrating 15 years together with this tour in support of their latest release “Into The Great Wide Open.”
Petty has devised an Alice-in-Wonderland-like setup for this tour. A giant tree with a door and stairs (Keebler Elf style) covered a majority of the stage.
This prop was the hiding place for many of the characters that Petty would interact with throughout the evening.
During “Psychotic Reaction” the “Psychedelic Dragon” emerged from the tree and delivered a harmonica to Petty.
“Don’t worry, it’s just bad karma,” Petty said. “It’ll go away.”
Petty wailed away on the harmonica, giving drummer Stan Lynch the vocal spotlight for this tune.
For “Don’t Come Around Here” the likenesses of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Ted Kennedy burst from the tree and chased Petty around the stage until he warded them off with a giant peace symbol. (Just like vampires with a crucifix.)
The Heartbreakers’ set included a slew of older material such as “You Got Lucky” and “Refugee” along with several of the hits from “Into the Great Wide Open.”
To condense some of his tunes, Petty performed a splendid acoustic medley that featured “Listen to Her Heart,” “Breakdown” and “American Girl.”
“Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” from Petty’s last album “Full Moon Fever” made the set list as well. These songs made Petty the first artist to have three No. 1 hits from the same LP.
Opening act Chris Whitley cranked out a tremendous, heartfelt blues set which included several cuts from his debut Columbia release “Living the Law.”
Despite his claim that “I’m not that well versed in the blues,” Whitley handles the slide and National steel guitar with amazing agility. His intensity is enough to make Muddy Waters envious.