Rockin’ Around With Tom Petty – Dublin 7th June 2012.

On Thursday I went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers open their European tour with a gig in Dublin. It was great to get the opportunity to see a real rock ‘n roll star live and thank goodness he played his hits. I caught Emmylou Harris last year and after that one the phrase I dreaded most hearing was ‘here’s one from my latest album’.  Fortunately, he only said that once, though he did play another off it (Mojo) later. When it’s been twenty years since the last visit a crowd really wants to hear the hits. And Tom Petty lived up to every expectation of his Dublin fans.

We endured Johnathan Wilson for forty or so minutes – we were there to see TP. Jonathan Wilson had a good band and a nice line in seventies rock, but he could do with employing a decent singer (oh gawd his mammy thinks he’s a wonderful singer and nobody’s told him different) or possibly get his vocals mixed way forward, but for me he was one of those breathy singers who lacks the power to really put the songs across in a large venue.

After the opener we then had to wait around for forty minutes before the main act arrived. After half an hour the natives were getting restless. This was a group of, mostly, dedicated Tom Petty fans. But they were beginning to whistle and yell at the roadies who faffed about on stage for far too long. Note to TP: get on stage as soon as possible after the opening act – they’re not referred to as warm-up acts for nothing. When the corwd’s warm they’re ready for the action. Get on with it, Tom.

But when he did get on with it, boy did he kick ass. They kicked off with Listen to her Heart – definitely a highlight of any potential Heartbreakers set for me. The crowd sang every word along with him and yelled their heads off at the end. And after that it was just a great rock ‘n roll show first to last. He didn’t always play the obvious choices from every album – Here Comes My Girl wouldn’t be my first choice from Damn the Torpedoes and no Breakdown or Anything That’s Rock ‘n Roll from his definitive debut album. He also surprised me, for one, with a great rendition of The Travelling Wilburys’ Handle With Care. But strangely enough, the absolute highlight of  the performance was a cover. And a cover of a song by a band that I really loved, but not a song I ever truly loved. However, I was blown away by their version of Oh Well, Part One, by the amazing Fleetwood Mac – the Peter Green version. The guitar attack of Mike Campbell was truly amazing and Tom, although he sang it, was only peripherally involved. As nobody at the Dublin gig has posted Thursday’s version, and my new Nokia smart phone has the world’s shittiest camera/video, I’ve stuck in an old video to give you an idea of how good it was – .

If I had been planning this gig for my pesonal enjoyment there is only one tune it could have ended with. Fortunately, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and everyone else at the O2 agreed with me. The closer was a really terriffic verion of American Girl that we sang every word of. And after that there was really nothing more needed to be said. Everyone went home happy from the gig of the year


About Bob Neilson

Bob Neilson lives in Dublin with his wife, two daughters, son, two dogs, one cat and a growing feeling of claustrophobia. In partnership with his wife he runs a successful retail business in Dublin city. His short fiction has appeared extensively in professional and small press markets and he has had two plays performed on RTE and one on Anna Livia FM. He also presented a radio show on Anna Livia for a year. He has had two short story collections published, Without Honour (1997, Aeon Press) and That’s Entertainment (2007, Elastic Press) as well as several comics and a graphic novel. His non-fiction book on the properties of crystals is a best-seller in the UK and Ireland.
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11 Responses to Rockin’ Around With Tom Petty – Dublin 7th June 2012.

  1. Paul Jeremy says:

    I pretty much agree with all you’ve said. An outstanding gig and my 1st time in Dublin so very impresed with the venue and the polite crowd. When a couple of lads tried to push past us they were told , “Sorry but we’ve been standind here for a couple of hours so our 5ft high wives can see the stage” and the lads apologised and moved back ….. now that wouldn’t happen in London

    As for the gap to reset the stage after the support act , well I’d rather wait a bit and have them get it right on the button to give the pretty near perfect sound they achieved on thursday then have Tom come on 15 minutes earlier and have the sound quality below par

    The Fleetwood Mac cover was inspired and so well performed . Cant wait till next Monday when I’ll see him do it all again at The Albert Hall

    • Bob Neilson says:

      I envy you your second chance to see him. I hope he’s as good in London.

      • Paul Jeremy says:

        I’ll keep you posted on Tuesday ….. unless I get really wrecked in which case it’ll be wednsday …… These things can happen as was given a particularly potent ‘Space Cake’ before a Coldplay gig a couple of years ago and both my girlfriend & I have almost no recollection of the performance

  2. jackson, graham, roy vs bob says:

    well, tom petty thought enough of jonathan wilsons vocals to hire him, graham nash recorded a beautiful cover of harrison’s “isn’t it a pity” with him, others like jackson browne and roy harper are clamoring to work with wilson, yet you , bob neilson, thinks his voice is one only a “mammy” could love( by the way ,use of word mammy= totally racist) …wonder which opinions are more relevant ?

    • Bob Neilson says:

      If you’re looking for a way of insulting me you’ll have to do better than racist. Obviously you think anyone from a different culture and with a different way of speaking/writing is inferior to you. Mammy is a good old
      Dublin word, meaning mother, and if you bothered your lazy arse to check that you could have found it. Obviously you were too keen to get your shot in to bother checking your facts. And by the way, reviews are opinions and mine is as valid as anyone’s. There are artists I like and those I don’t. If every one conformed to your world view it would be a sad and poor place.

  3. jackson, graham, roy vs bob says:

    not looking for a way to insult you, but you certainly were looking for a way to insult a talented , hard working musician…i merely pointed out some opinions that are slightly more valid than yours , especially when discussing music…i’m not trying to sway anyone’s opinion, or world view, but you are, by publishing your opinion…and when reviewing an american act, you should do the research and make sure you’re not using an american racial slur to describe their singing voice…you managed to insult not only wilson, but tom petty( by pleading that he not play new material) but also emmy lou harris…? wannabe lester bangs

    • Mammy says:

      Bob was dead-on with his review of Wilson. I live in LA and was around when Jonathan was “coming up” and he always just kinda sucked. But he was a handsome, popular guy (and a decent guitar player) so no one had the nerve to tell him that he actually kinda sucked, especially his voice. I’ve got nothing against the guy, but let’s call a spade a spade, Tom Petty could have picked a MUCH better opener for the tour.

  4. Paul Jeremy says:

    Tom Petty Royal Albert Hall last night

    Well another fine performance with a couple of tweeks to the set , ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ was a welcome addition

    As this was a seated venue the vibe and the set was a tad melower than The o2 Dublin gig. seemed to be , with more use of accoustic guitars last night I missed the constant engergy but then this was another great performance, A proper “Muso’s” gig tho of course we got up and strutted to the Big Tunes , I defy anyone to just sit tapping their feet to “American Girl”

    I had good seats behind the mixing desk so the sound was a good as they can get at the Albert Hall but again you’d not expect an old building designed for non amplified orchestras to give as crisp a sound as a modern shed like The o2 , it was a tad boomy at times. The lack of TV screens actually added to the intimacy of the gig too.

    If I seem to be nitpicking because Dublin was just so good and even tho last nights gig was pretty fantastic , with the benefit of me (at 53 years of age and carrying 3 stone more than my target weight) not having to stand for over 3 hours pushed up against the barrier on the side of the stage , I guess I always prefer to get close the the energy of a standing gig , at leat until I grow up

    Be interesting to see how Tom goes down at the Isle Of Wight , Having seen the kids go mental for Neil Young and Springstein a couple of years back at Glastonbury (near the front of course) I’m sure he’ll storm the festival crowd

    So glad I saw both gigs , and especially pleased my lady got to see both too as she’s a big Tom fan who I’d not met when I saw Tom with Dylan some 20 years ago or with Jackson Browne as support in Vegas about 10 years ago

    Dublin 9/10 London 8/10

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