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Petty was king at Alpine Valley
By Andy Angeli
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel — September 21, 1995
About halfway through Tom Petty’s concert at Alpine Valley Saturday, he sauntered towards the mike and in a Southern accent playfully said, “I’ll be thing when dogs fly.” Needless to say, all dogs were flying high.
Alpine Valley in mid-September doesn’t get much better.
A light chill blew from the crimson sky, casting one’s attention to Alpine’s beautiful surroundings. The sound quality at Alpine is phenomenal. All wood structures and Mother Nature’s placement of the countless rolling hills are just a sampling of the many attributes that make Alpine the best concert facility in the area, not to mention one of the best in the nation.
Right from the night’s first chord, Petty and the well-organized Heartbreakers played with the fun and freedom that the band has had for years.
Throughout the show, perfectly orchestrated jams complemented the flowing rhythms of songs such as “Free Falling,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and a truly beautiful “It All Work Out.” Mike Campbell’s sterling guitar mastery was showcased on his version of the old Ventures surf song “Diamond Head,” with the sound right from the movie “Pulp Fiction.”
The lazy “Don’t Come ‘Round Here No More,” was a wonderful addition to the band’s set. It featured a childlike Petty dancing around the stage and swapping sweet Southern guitar licks with guitarist Howie Epstein. Another memorable moment was the classic rock tune “Refugee.” Its hard-driving rhythm and pervasive jams throughly pleased the mostly adult audience.
Petty’s three-song encore proved that he still reigns in Milwaukee. With a short, yet expressive, “Honey Bee,” the band moved into the biggest highlight of the night, a stellar version of the rock anthem “Gloria.”
Petty did it his own way, wavering from the traditional hard-driving rhythm to an improvisational conversation with the song’s leading lady.
“American Girl” closed the set with the same amount of energy at the band’s opening number, “Love is a Long Road.” Pete Droge opened the show much in the style of the night’s closer.
Donning a trademark hat and subdued colors, Droge played a solid 45-minute show. His band, the Perpetual Sinners, blended beautifully together on the band’s recent claim to fame, “If You Don’t Love Me I’d Kill Myself.”
The show was an end to the summer concert season, and what a swan song it was.
The two-hour-plus show, filled with 20 of Petty’s better-known songs, left the audience wishing the night wouldn’t end.
Actually that wish did come true for many, since the usual headaches associated with Alpine’s disorganized parking lot kept them on the grounds for what seemed like hours. Nonetheless, the memories of Petty’s stop in Easy Troy will continue to enchant.