A hot and humid Sunday night did not stop the masses from coming out for a great show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers put on a non-stop two hour show that saw him mix up the setlist with songs spanning his entire career. The crowd was standing through the night and was rapid in their applause and participation. Tom was very thankful throughout the evening and let it be known to everyone that he has loved coming to upstate New York since 1980 and hoped to see everyone again.
The evening started with The Wallflowers playing a great 45 minute set. Most people may know the band as being the band of Jakob Dylan, son of Bob Dylan, but they proved they can play on their own accord. They started right out of the gates with a cover of The Band’s song “Don’t Do It.” They did the song justice with Jakob singing the lyrics wonderfully. They went right into “Three Marlenas” and transitioned quickly into “The Letter,” a song originally by The Box Tops, but they played it in more of a Joe Cocker style. Having the two covers early in the set brought the audience to attention before going into their own material. Rami Jaffee worked the keyboards beautifully with Stuart Mathis playing great lead guitar throughout the set. “One Headlight” got the crowd on their feet near the end of the set. As the band finished up “The Difference”, the pavilion was standing room only with a roar from the crowd thanking the band for a great opening set.
Setlist: Don’t Do It, Three Marlenas, The Letter, I’ve Been Delivered, 6th Avenue Heartache, Closer to You, Sleepwalker, One Headlight, Misfits and Lovers, The Difference
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers recently wrapped up intimate residencies at both The Beacon Theatre and The Henry Fonda Theatre, focusing on deep tracks and rare covers. These shows seem to have put a new energy into the band as they came out swinging with a cover of The Byrds “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and quickly followed it up with “Love is a Long Road.” Both of these songs saw Mike Campbell wailing away on his guitar and he continued to show how good of a guitarist he is at every opportunity throughout the evening of music. Tom told the crowd, before starting Paul Revere and The Raiders hit song “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” that he and The Heartbreakers are just a “glorified garage band from Florida and we like to rock out just like you do.” The hits soon followed with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” that had Scott Thurston playing a mean harmonic, and “Free Fallin,” which got the whole crowd singing along with Tom.
Tom had the lights turned on so he could see the adoring, standing-room-only crowd before introducing the band to everyone. What followed was a special song for the current tour. Having been a member of the super group The Traveling Wilburys, Petty usually plays one song from their catalog during his shows and this tour he chose “Tweeter and the Monkey Man.” It’s a great song and a deep cut from the band and one The Heartbreakers pulled off flawlessly. “Melinda” soon followed and it gave a chance for Benmont Tench and Steve Ferrone to show off their skills at piano and drums, respectively. With the rest of the band dropping out during the song, these two went to work for an extended jam on the song. The set ended with a “Refugee” and “Runnin Down a Dream” double shot that was stunning.
With a three song encore of “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, “You Wreck Me” and “American Girl”, there wasn’t a person in the crowd not rocking out to end the show. Even though the band has been together since the mid-1970s, they continue to put on a show like few acts can today. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they come back to the Upstate region.
Setlist: So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Love Is a Long Road, I Won’t Back Down, (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, Here Comes My Girl, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Free Fallin’, A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me), Listen to Her Heart, Tweeter and the Monkey Man, Rebels, Melinda, Learning to Fly, Yer So Bad, I Should Have Known It, Refugee, Runnin’ Down a Dream
Encore: Don’t Come Around Here No More, You Wreck Me, American Girl