Tom Petty concert review: Tampa
By Jim Abbott
Orlando Sentinel — September 17, 2010
At this point, there’s not much mystery attached to a Tom Petty concert. When you’re a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, there’s a royal obligation to hit all the favorite targets. Petty and the Heartbreakers fulfilled that mandate reliably on Thursday at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa: Monster hits such as “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin'” and “You Don’t Know How it Feels” were front-loaded into a well-paced 105 minutes for a near-capacity crowd. There also were songs from the recently released “Mojo” album to show that the band is still making new material. All the bases covered. The only question, really, is does the band still deliver? After watching the Heartbreakers in this same arena a few years back, I wasn’t sure that the old songs had much left to give. I was hoping that perhaps the band would offer some unexpected tweaks to the familiar hits, in the spirit of Petty’s Wilbury buddy Bob Dylan. What do I know? Petty didn’t monkey with the classics, delivering them with note-for-note precision — aside from an occasional extended ending to pump the energy to arena level. He also resurrected a few goodies, such as “King’s Highway,” a still-potent “Breakdown,” and even a swing through Chuck Berry’s “Carol” in the encore. And the “Mojo” material? New stuff from a band of this vintage can be an excuse to hit the concession stand, but “Mojo” tracks such as “Jefferson Jericho Blues” and “Good Enough” were worth skipping the extra beer run. Guitarist Mike Campbell’s twisting riff in “Jericho” dovetailed with Scott Thurston’s harmonica to take the band down into the Mississippi Delta. “Good Enough,” meanwhile, was a heavier, hypnotic ballad that sttretched into a longer jam. Campbell wasn’t the only guitar hero in the building. Billy Gibbons powered a 55-minute opening set by ZZ Top. The video screen showed vintage clips of the flashy cars and women that made the band the toast of MTV’s first generation, but the music didn’t need much help. The Texas blues ages well. That’s also true of Petty and the Heartbreakers, still capable of turning their mojo loose after all these years.