Tom Petty rules. Again.

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The band started by blasting out a string of hits and classics: “You Wreck Me,” “Listen to Her Heart,” I Won’t Back Down,” “Even the Losers,” “Free Fallin’” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” Talk about getting the crowd on your side.


Petty’s singing was spot-on. He sauntered the stage, sort of crept along, periodically moving his arms outward in a slow flying motion. He bowed repeatedly to the audience, cupping his hands in a prayer pose.


Then the band detoured. Petty introduced the rarity “Sweet William,” a tune that alternates between slow blues and fast boogie. It provided ample room for the band to stretch out, and for guitar god Mike Campbell to strut his stuff.


One late-show highlight was “You Don’t Know How it Feels” — which the band performed in a relaxed mode, with plenty of space and sonic detail — followed by an acoustic, and particularly touching, “Learning to Fly.”


In all, another memorable night of Petty.


I was suitably impressed, and pleasantly surprised, with opener Steve Winwood’s set, but apparently I arrived (for the last half-hour) at just the right time. More on that in a coming post.

I first saw Tom Petty in the very early 1980s, and have probably attended seven or eight of his shows. The guy (and his band) have never let me down, never delivered anything short of a high-quality concert. And some of those concerts were nothing short of terrific. I can’t say that about many (any?) other of the hundreds of performers I’ve seen and reviewed over the years (decades).

Same thing happened last night at the St. Pete Times Forum. Petty and his five Heartbreakers delivered an enthusiastic two-hour set, exquisitely paced with moments that ranged from exalted energy to pensive reflection.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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