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