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Petty performs solid, positive, polished rock
By Vincent Trola
The Daily Aztec — Wednesday, May 17, 1978
It has been almost one week since Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers set foot on Montezuma Hall’s stage, but the fever still lingers.
Petty and his band of bad boys launched a full-scale attack on the ears of a sell-out crowd, and literally sent them reeling head-on into the heavens of classic rock ‘n’ roll music.
In a word, the band was incredible. No one band I have ever seen has totally controlled both the stage and its fans in attendance.
The San Diego show as one of a few warm-up gigs before the band begins their U.S. tour in Los Angeles in June. Petty and his cohorts were somewhat uneasy about the tour, and felt the warm-up shows would help them loosen up.
What the hell were they worried about? Petty, except for a few small problems, was near perfection.
The band seemed to need to get used to where the lights were going to be and when to start a song, but when they cranked up and let out some fiery rock ‘n’ roll, the result was both exciting and emotional.
It was a concert where one could easily stand up and dance and feel perfectly content.
The band rambled through most of the material on its debut album, including “American Girl,” “Breakdown,” and “Fooled Again,” perhaps the most crowd pleasing of the set.
“Breakdown,” the band’s only successful single to date, was received with great enthusiasm and applause. Petty’s low, sly-tongued vocals gave the band an air of toughness — of tough hoods.
However, in reality, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are excellent musicians; musicians who take the simple 1960’s pop style and convert it into a modern day ‘classic rock sound.’
But, the sound is original. The vocal style is its own and Mike Campbell’s guitar solos are simple, yet delightful, making a few notes say as much as one hundred.
Drummer Stan Lynch was a stand-out as well. Definitely a body-drummer, Lynch put more energy into his small drum set than others can with 40 pieces.
The most amazing part of the set, which only last an hour with two encores, was the fact that the music lost none of the punch from vinyl to stage. Each note, every ivory note, every bass drum, every drum roll and every guitar riff was an exact copy of its vinyl predecessor.
As a special bonus to all fans, Petty indulged in cuts from his just-released album, You’re Gonna Get It, as well as some very familiar “oldies.”
The Animals’ “Don’t Bring Me Down” and Bobby Troup’s “Route 66,” put some more rock numbers in full view. “Shout,” an old Isley Brothers tune was also done in a louder, rougher style than the original, but the three tunes illustrated the band’s earlier influences in music.
One can sense the 1960’s rock/pop influence in the band. Traces of the Stones, the Animals, the Kinks, and the Beatles are evident, but Petty holds on to a style of his own — one with a 1970’s feel.
The band was reluctant to give interviews, scared to perform, worried about being a stage success, but the show last Thursday was perhaps the best rock ‘n’ roll show performed on this campus.
Most in attendance would seem to agree. I don’t think I remember a show where most people left singing and dancing to a band’s tunes. Petty’s short, powerful performance captured all the feeling rock ‘n’ roll has given us in the last 20 years.
Opening act John Miles gave an entertaining performance, but missed one thing — no one really knew who he was.
What he was (and is) is one of the most promising English male vocalists and songwriters to emerge onto the 1970’s scene.
After three albums, and some big hits in England (he had one major single “High Fly” in the U.S.) Miles is struggling to find himself in America.
Perhaps he tries too hard. However, most of his tunes work and contains both power and softness.
“Overture” starts slow and builds into a tower of strength, while “Borderline” rocks and “High Fly” is soft and pop-oriented.