Petty rock the Verizon
By Carol Robidoux, Union Leader Staff, 7/11/2002
Fans last night flooded the Verizon Wireless Arena with heartfelt appreciation for the man whos given them a quarter-century of their favorite rock n roll anthems during a two-hour Tom Petty love fest.
And the feeling was obviously mutual.
Petty and his five-man band, the Heartbreakers, dressed like a middle-aged wedding band, took the stage just after 9 p.m. wearing dark suits, white shirts and neckties.
But thats where any resemblance to mid-life musicians ended.
Opening with Runnin Down a Dream, Petty spent as much time grinning at the crowd as he did filling the arena with the kind of hard-driving rhythmic blues thats placed him among the Holy Trinity of Heartland rockers, right alongside Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp.
Throughout the next several songs, including I Wont Back Down, and I Need to Know, Petty soaked up the crowd, like adrenaline. Pettys timelessness was apparent in tunes like Mary Janes Last Dance, which gave the crowd its biggest thrill of the night.
Along with his arsenal of hits, Petty fired a few new songs from his soon-to-be-released album, which showed a more experimental side of Pettys music.
Have Love Will Travel, a slow ballad, was the most familiar-sounding of the three. Lost Children, with its sparse lyrics against desperate, thrashing guitar riffs, was a diversion from Pettys usual first-person story telling style. And Cant Stop the Sun, showed off Pettys way with melodic guitar.
But the band shined brightest about halfway through the set with an extended version of the melancholy, Its Good to be King.
In this moment, Petty offered up the epitome of what every guitar-driven rock band wants to deliver.
This is how you know that music is what Petty wouldve given his life to, even if no one paid him.
Opening for Petty was the Brian Setzer Trio, who rocked better than three guys with big hair and a stand-up bass should be allowed to.
Although hes best known for hits like Stray Cat Strut, and Rock This Town, Setzer included several tunes with a country flavor, including the old Glen Campbell standard, Gentle on my Mind, which he dedicated to New York City firefighter friends of his lost in the World Trade Center attack.
Here is Boston Globe's review of Tom Petty the following night at Tweeter Center in Mass.
Too much isn't enough of Petty
By Tom Kielty, Globe Correspondent, 7/13/2002
MANSFIELD - There's a certain sense of completion that comes with election to a hall of fame. When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers waltzed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, the distinctive sound of Rickenbacker guitars swelling behind them, it would have been easy to laud their efforts and guess that their vitality had been left behind with their youth.
Easy, and incorrect. On Thursday evening at the Tweeter Center, Petty and his longtime companions showed that in addition to possessing one of the most impressive catalogs in American rock history, they still have the chops to do justice to their work - and, just as impressive, the ability to incorporate exciting new material into a set of more than two hours.
Petty, clean-shaven and still razor-thin in a black suit, began shuffling through his back pages early on with the 1978 ''I Need To Know.'' The original bass player, Ron Blair, recently rejoined the Heartbreakers (replacing longtime bassist Howie Epstein), and the band seems intent on easing him in with familiar material. For fans this was a dream come true, as the band charged through such classics as ''Refugee'' and ''Too Much Ain't Enough.''
As exciting as the familiar tunes were the new ones, from a planned October release called ''The Last DJ''; they indicated that Petty has not lost his way around an innovative hook. ''Have Love, Will Travel'' was a midtempo rocker with a rootsy chorus that called out for cheers for the boys ''who play rock 'n' roll. They love it like you love Jesus, it does the same thing for their souls.''
Petty's faith in the power of music, akin to Bruce Springsteen's, has never wavered.
The other new material succeeded as well. ''Lost Children'' was harder-edged, but with a soft chorus and a Jerry Garcia-esque guitar supplied by Mike Campbell, while ''I Can't Stop the Sun'' combined the moodiness of Petty's ''She's the One'' with a crashing Beatles-influenced chorus.
Campbell was a marvel throughout the evening. He has always been an essential ingredient to the Heartbreakers' success, and his playing on the set's apex - a formidable one-two shot of ''Here Comes My Girl'' and ''Even the Losers'' was focused yet earthy enough for the entire band to feed off.
Watching some aging captains of industry in the first 10 rows punching the air and singing along to the redeeming chorus of ''Even the Losers,'' while youngsters next to them grooved to the more recent ''Mary Jane's Last Dance,'' was sufficient proof that Petty has done the requisite miles for legend status. More impressive is that he doesn't appear headed for the exit any time soon.
In his opening set, Brian Setzer continued in the neo-rockabilly tradition of Stray Cats. He even treated longtime fans to versions of ''Stray Cat Strut'' and ''Rock This Town.''
Tom Petty and
This story ran
on page G12 of the Boston Globe on 7/13/2002.