Talent in Action
Review by Rovan Kozak
Billboard — December 8, 1979
Tom Petty | Fabulous Poodles | Palladium, New York
The overwhelming response of rock radio to the new Tom Petty “Damn the Torpedoes” LP which shot up to 30 from 114 on the LP chart in one week, indicates a strong demand for his music. But on the first night of his current tour, a rainy Sunday (11), the Palladium was only 3/4 full.
Which was a shame, because the no-shows missed a fine performance. Though Petty is by no means the great white hope of rock’n’roll, as some of his fans would have one believe, nevertheless he showed in his 90-minute set a distinctive style that was still well grounded in rock and country rock traditions.
Petty & the Heartbreakers, the four-man band that plays behind him, got off to a slow start with the twanging guitars and rather strangled vocls sounding a bit too uncomfortably like the Eagles to impress. But as the 18-song set progressed, Petty and his band were able to raise both the performance and energy level of the set.
By the time the band got into “Refugee,” the fine new song, Petty and things well in hand and the audience in his (slim) hip pocket. “Do You Feel Like Crying (Cry To Me)” a big ballad cemented the bond, and “American Girl” put it over the edge.
While Petty is not totally original and echoes from everybody from the Byrds to Lou Reed could be heard during the set, Petty wears his influences well and makes them work for him. That and an appealing stage presence, that seemed especially to appeal to female fans, provide for his measure of success.
Opening was the Fabulous Poodles, a talented and entertaining English group that features innovative and satirical material, well played with the added bonus that one of the band members gives the sound an extra dimension with his violin playing.
The Fab Poos (as the fans call the band) play a satiric dead pan sort of new-wave music-hall rock and pop and while there could be no complaints about the material in the 90-minute, 10 song set, a bit more staging and general lunacy would have helped.
But just standing there and playing was good enough as the band treated the audience to such ditties as “Hollywood Dragnet,” “Tit Photographer’s Blues,” “Bionic Man” and more. The encore was well deserved.