Tom Petty flies high on ‘Wildflowers’ tour
By Jerry Lombardo
Meriden Record-Journal — April 4, 1995
NEW HAVEN — It’s been more than three years since the last Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour.
A sellout crowd that varied widely in age from teens to people in their 40s, couldn’t wait for Petty to take the stage Saturday at the New Haven Coliseum.
The staging for this tour contrasted starkly from the last. The gigantic gnarly-limbed tree and crystal chandeliers were replaced by a simple, satin curtain backdrop, and dozens of plain, lit candles.
The Jayhawks, from St. Paul, Minn., opened the show with their rising hit “So Blue.” Their clear, tenor harmonies bring back memories of the ’60s country/rock band Poco.
The Jayhawks flavor their impressive vocals with more guitar crunch than Poco ever did, and their use piano gives their sound a touch more pop style than country.
Their set included a cover version of “Bad Time,” a ’70s hit for Grand Funk, that well suited their musical approach.
Tom Petty crashed on stage at 9 p.m., opening with a rousing version of “Love Is A Long Hard Road.”
A great audience can help elevate a band into a great performance, and Saturday’s show was a pure example of this.
The New Haven audience swooned with every note the entire night, and Petty responded with passionate playing at each turn.
“I Won’t Back Down” had the audience singing the lyrics letter perfectly, without any prompting from Petty. “Free Fallin'” and “You Wreck Me” (from the current Wildflowers record) were followed by an instrumental medley of surf music from guitarist Mike Campbell.
The highlights of the show came when new drummer, Steve Ferrone, moved from his full drum kit to a stripped-down percussion set-up.
Petty led the group on acoustic guitar into “unplugged” versions of “Learning To Fly,” “You’re So Bad” and a charmingly extended version of “It’s Good To Be King.”
After a set that lasted nearly two hours, no one left this show disappointed.