Tom Petty Breaks No Hearts
By Steve McLean
CHARTattack — September 11, 2006
DATE: September 8, 2006 | CITY: Toronto, ON | VENUE: Molson Amphitheatre | RATING: 4 / 5
Tom Petty’s face looked a bit ghostly and his black velvet pants, brown suit jacket and scarf made him look like a funky ’60s funeral director when he walked on stage, but his Friday night performance with The Heartbreakers brimmed with life.
The Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer opened the show with “Listen To Her Heart,” which set the tone for a night of songs that could be placed loosely in three categories: those from his new Highway Companion album; a handful of classic covers; and hits. And since the group are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, there was no shortage of the latter.
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” prompted everyone in the crowd with weed to simultaneously spark up, and the aroma stayed in the air as Petty moved from one of his Rickenbacker electric guitars to an acoustic for “I Won’t Back Down” and then into “Free Fallin’.”
Current single “Saving Grace” was the first song played from Highway Companion, with “Down South” and “Square One” also representing the new disc.
A big and bold cover of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man” featured Scott Thurston wailing away on harmonica. Thurston also played guitar and keyboards during the evening, and he handled the Roy Orbison vocal role with aplomb when Petty dipped into his Traveling Wilburys catalogue for “Handle Me With Care.” Mike Campbell was smoking on guitar all night and keyboard player Benmont Tench — despite looking like a cross between Abe Vigoda and James Taylor — displayed the talent that makes him such an in-demand session player. Drummer Steve Ferrone and bassist Ron Blair laid down a solid rhythm all night.
When Petty sang “Let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint” in “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” a lot of people who had sold-out the amphitheatre quickly obliged. But there was also enough beer being consumed by fans to ensure that the quotient of fist-pumping, off-key singing and unintelligible shouts was high. There was huge applause after every song, and Petty thanked the throng with sincerity throughout the concert.
The trio of “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Refugee” and “American Girl” closed out the 100-minute set, with Campbell taking centre stage for solos on the latter two songs. It took a while for the band to come on stage for the encore, but it made up for lost time with “Runnin’ Down A Dream” and a cover of Them’s “Mystic Eyes.”
The crowd was still rambunctious as it made its way out through the pouring rain that had started late in the show, and the good times that permeated the previous two hours proved difficult to dissolve.
The Sadies kicked ass at the Horseshoe Tavern after the Petty show, too.