When the critic starts pondering a concerts meaning in the overall context of the modern music business model, and the critic does so right in the middle of the concert, perhaps thats a sign that the show is not as captivating is it should be. [All photos by Phil Bardi.]
And so it was with me and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers last night at the St. Pete Times Forum. The band delivered a solid show in front of nearly 15,000 adoring fans, but for this critic who loves the band and cant quite recall how many times hes seen them, only that it has to be in double the figures it elicited more nods of appreciation than genuine enthusiasm and emotional involvement. (Yes, the veteran critic is still capable of getting pretty worked up at a great rock concert.) Perhaps thats a comment on the critic, but Petty and company usually move me and last night, well, they didnt. Not much.
Now regarding that chin-stroking about context and the music biz: There was a time when bands like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers would tour to promote a new album, play nearly the whole damn thing, and tack on a few catalog hits near the end.
Dont like it? Fuck you. Were into playing the new shit.
Petty and the guys have a new album out, Mojo, which is their best in a long, long time. They didnt pimp it last night. Instead, they performed four songs in a row about two-thirds into the set, with Petty introducing the title to each. (Subtext: Try these songs out; we like em; we hope you do to.) For my money wait, I got in free it was the best part of the show. The band played Jefferson Jericho Blues, Good Enough, Running Mans Bible and I Should Have Known It with the verve of kids riding a new bicycle found under the Christmas tree. (Had I made the setlist, it would have included First Flash of Freedom.)