Tom Petty Plays At Spectrum
By Scott Brodeur
The Philadelphia Inquirer — February 7, 1990
Try to name an American band better than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are going through a divorce. Bob Dylan never really had a band. And REM just hasn’t been around long enough.
Since breaking out of Gainesville, Fla., in 1976 with a strong, self-titled debut, Petty and his powerful, four-piece band have clawed their way to the top with a versatile, catchy and accessible style of rock.
The group proved that with a smorgasbord of hits last night that the sellout crowd at the Spectrum gobbled up.
Petty, who performed for almost two hours, played eight of the 12 songs from his Grammy-nominated Full Moon Fever, released last year without the Heartbreakers as an ensemble. The
group, however, was incredible last night on songs from the album such as, “I Won’t Back Down” and “A Mind With a Heart of Its Own,” bringing the cohesiveness to the numbers as only a band playing together for more than 14 years can do.
Particularly enchanting was guitarist Mike Campbell, whose simple yet integral lead parts have always left a heavy mark on the band. Petty was loose and quite comfortable behind the microphone. He tinkered masterfully with vocal lines to hits such as, “The Waiting Is the Hardest Part” and “I Was Born a Rebel,” which he performed with a heavy folk lilt. And the crowd loved the improvisations.
In fact, the crowd took over the vocals on songs such as “Free Fallin’, ” ”Breakdown,” and “Refugee,” singing all the verses.
Petty also got political as he made a pitch for the environmental organization Greenpeace, which has set up booths inside arenas throughout this tour.
“If we’re going to make it through the ’90s, the most important thing ahead of us is to save the planet we live on,” Petty told the crowd. “If there is no Earth, it’s going to cut into your rock-and-roll time.”
The band then went into “Something in the Air,” a song popularized by Thunderclap Newman in the late ’60s, which Petty dedicated to Greenpeace.
Opening act Lenny Kravitz added the topping to the already eventful night. The New York singer-songwriter, still known to most people as Lisa Bonet’s husband, adjusted well to the arena setting.
With a five-piece band that included saxophone, Kravitz played 40 minutes of soulful music from his exciting debut album, Let Love Rule, on Virgin Records. The delivery, with distorted electric guitars and a swelling organ, had more of a blues feel than the acoustic-guitar-driven album.