Hampton Roads Daily Press — August 20, 1999

No Petty Consolation
By Sam McDonald
Hampton Roads Daily Press — August 20, 1999

Springsteen Not Coming, But Heartbreakers Are
One of our era’s great rock songwriters has reunited with his beloved band and is back on the road touring the nation. And he’s coming to Virginia Beach Amphitheater Oct. 2. Tickets go on sale Saturday.

OK. We’re talking Tom Petty, not Bruce Springsteen.

But since Springsteen’s closest scheduled tour stop is Washington, D.C., you could think of Petty as our consolation prize. And as such, he’s nothing to sneeze at.

Petty may not be worshiped with the same intensity as The Boss. But Petty is one of the most successful, durable and credible rockers of the past two decades. And as a live act, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers positively sizzle.

Petty’s music isn’t experimental or trendy. It’s more meat-and-potatoes than nouvelle cuisine. But his music is well crafted and tuneful. And the best of it always seems to come straight from the heart.

His hits are familiar to anyone who’s tuned into rock radio over the last 20 years: “Don’t Do Me Like That” (1979), “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (1985), “I Won’t Back Down” (1989), “Free Fallin'” (1989), “You Don’t Know How it Feels” (1994).

Petty has a new album in stores. But so far, “Echo” hasn’t been a hot seller. Still, Petty’s Virginia Beach show should be a major event.

“I have a Top 5 list that you shoot for at the beginning of each year. He was definitely in that Top 5,” said Mike Tabor, manager of the amphitheater.

Tabor was told that Petty hasn’t played Hampton Roads in eight years. And while Petty’s shows aren’t selling out arenas all over the country, they’re drawing well. Tabor predicts that his concert in Virginia Beach will pull in as many as 15,000 fans. The amphitheater holds 20,000.

“Another thing about this show, the ticket prices, comparatively speaking, are pretty reasonable,” Tabor said. “I was impressed with that. The price is reasonable, compared to most of the big shows that are happening, Bob Dylan and Simon, Cher.”

Maybe. Or maybe not. Reserved seats for Tom Petty are $45.75. With parking and service charges, music lovers will pay close to $50. Lawn seats are $25.75.

That’s less than the $28.75 price of lawn tickets for the Sept. 8 Cher/Cyndi Lauper concert. But it’s also considerably more than the lawn price for tonight’s Jewel concert ($18.50) or the Sept. 18 Lenny Kravitz show ($19.75).

The opening act for Petty’s concert hasn’t been nailed down yet. Lucinda Williams had been warming up the crowd for some concerts on the Heartbreakers tour, but she’s not expected to be part of the Virginia Beach gig.

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