Tom Petty at Summerfest 2013
Summerfest Day 3: Tom Petty
June 29, 2013
With a dozen or so visits to the Big Gig in the past decade, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers are as Summerfest as they come. “My schedule is free for hours,” Petty told the cheering crowd at the Marcus Amphitheater Friday night as he and the Heartbreakers quickly settled into the familiar surroundings. The band seemed inspired by its recent residencies at cities like New York as they pulled out some deep cuts (“A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)”) in addition to the proven hits (the giant sing-along of “Free Fallin’”). Unlike previous visits, the stage setup was simple, but Petty and company are good enough that they don’t need flashy lights to succeed.
The band opened with a cover of The Byrds’ “So You Want To Be A Rock ’N’ Roll Star,” and soon added their own bluesy twist to Them’s “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” Guitarist Mike Campbell, per usual, was busy creating all kinds of mouthwatering riffs, while keyboardist Benmont Tench proved once again how gifted he is at his instrument. The slowly building folk-rock song “Melinda” has become a great opportunity for the band to jam out, and Tench plunked away at his keys with glee.
During the band introductions, Petty referred to Ron Blair as the person that would “smoke” back in the day, prompting laughter from the crowd. “I didn’t say what,” Petty drolly replied. Other highlights included a rousing version of the Traveling Wilburys’ “Tweeter And The Monkey Man;” a powerful acoustic-driven rendition of “Rebels;” and the heavy charging of “I Should Have Known,” off the band’s last album, Mojo. Petty and company ended the show with “American Girl,” with the singer telling the crowd, “We’re going to leave you where we started.” [Joshua Miller]