Petty & co. bring their Mojo to Mansfield
By Sarah Rodman
Boston Globe — August 20, 2010
MANSFIELD — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ new album is called “Mojo,” and last night at the Comcast Center the veteran rockers made clear that, nearly 40 years in, theirs is still working just fine.
Everything else was also working in the 105-minute show. From the joyous energy of the crowd to the high class, yet low-key staging to the finely calibrated set list that included 11 classics, one album cut, four new tunes, and two can’t-miss covers, it was a typically excellent outing for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-ensconced band.
Petty poured on his characteristic slacker charm, punctuating hits like fizzy “American Girl” and cheerfully defiant “I Won’t Back Down” with sly smiles and slow spins. He busted out the maracas for the night’s early high, a hard-rocking and funky run through the Fleetwood Mac jam “Oh Well.”
During the breakdown in “Breakdown” Petty murmured kiss-offs and come-ons to an unseen vixen and engaged in some sassy call-and-response with guitarist Mike Campbell and the crowd. Like Petty, the song has aged remarkably well, with that slinky riff still powerful enough to coil around the spine and force a swivel into the hips more than 30 years and a countless number of radio rotations later.
In between tunes, Petty offered thanks and praised the crowd and his band mates, of whom he believably declared, “I love every one of them.”
And when they play like they did last night and probably will in their second show at the venue tomorrow, why wouldn’t he?
Well-oiled does not begin to get at the way the quintet gets inside a song and carries the crowd with it. Whether it was drummer Steve Ferrone earning his nickname of Petty’s “personal locomotive” on “Jefferson Jericho Blues” or Benmont Tench getting fast and loose on his keys for a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Carol,” the Heartbreakers smoked.
While the stretch of four “Mojo” tunes midset may have been overlong by one, sending some to the restrooms, those who stayed were treated to a spicy spectrum of blues-soaked rock. The righteous, near head-banging stomp of “I Should Have Known It” — with its zig-zag-Zep lick — and the epic psychedelic meanderings of “Good Enough,” which saw Campbell scorching his way through a giddy, damn-the-torpedoes solo, clearly jazzed the musicians.
Petty also cut loose repeatedly, taking a lyrical flight at the close of “You Don’t Know How it Feels” and heating up the outro of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
An indication of the group’s multi-generational appeal came near night’s end when, after a rollicking “Refugee,” an equal number of lighters and cellphones were hoisted aloft by the jam-packed house.
Petty is always generous with time and sound for his opening acts, and My Morning Jacket got a full hour and 15 minutes to stretch out on their reverb-soaked anthems to the slowly growing crowd, By the time MMJ lit into the wall of sound of “I’m Amazed,” many had warmed to the keening sounds of Jim James and his gang.