Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Concert Review

I went to the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour on Friday August 29, 2008 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. It was the last show of a three month tour starting at Van Andel in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ending at The Woodlands, Texas.

Steve Winwood was the opening act. Remember the song “Higher Love?” Yeah, he sings that. He got us all riled up and ready for Mr. Petty with his “Gimme Some Lovin’.” When they were through he and his band linked hands and bowed in front of the crowd. I thought it was nice because I’ve never seen a band do that on stage before. I guess it’s what the old-timers do.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took the stage shortly after with “You Wreck Me.” I know the setlist because whenever I’m at a concert I jot down the songs as they play them. I’ll list them in order for ya’ at the bottom of this post. After the first song he addressed the crowd but didn’t have much to say. He mentioned that this was the last night of the tour and that he had a big long setlist so he was going to just get right to it. He played just one song off of Highway Companion from 2006. It was the first radio single “Saving Grace.” I was hoping to hear at least one more from that album but it’s ok Tom I’m not too disappointed. When he played it everyone sat down. Now, that confused me a little bit. I thought, “What’s wrong? Didn’t y’all bother to listen to his latest album? (Wow, I am officially a Texan. Saying y’all is one thing, but I just typed it!!)

Actually, I have to correct myself here. Highway Companion is not Tom Petty’s latest album. He is in a new band now called Mudcrutch and they released an album on April 28, 2008. He produced it with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell. They did not play any songs off this album.

Tangent…do you think Tom Petty has gray hair? I mean, it still looks the same as it does on the Damn the Torpedoes LP from 1979, and every other album cover for that matter. It’s long, straight, and I guess a dirty reddish-blond color. I think it would be cool if Tom Petty wore his hair long, straight, and totally gray.

Anyway, where was I? On “A Face in the Crowd” we heard an excellent piano solo. After that they played “Honey Bee” and someone spilled beer on me. Some old lady behind me trying to get her husbands attention and, in doing so, she kicked over her beer cup. Oh well, worse things have happened. After “Honey Bee” he played “Learning To Fly” and as soon as he started I had a small stroke because that is my favorite Tom Petty song EVER. However, I was waiting for “…around the clouds, what goes up, must come down.” Did you forget your own lyrics Tom Petty? Remember the chorus changes? “Don’t Come Around Here No More” had strobe lighting and a huge jam session. Speaking of lighting, they had great stage effects. They must have had someone recording from all angles because they had several suspended screens showing clips from the performance and somehow looping it to playback what was just done. It was neat!

Towards the middle of the set I had, what I think were, several high school students behind me for a while shouting “Refugee” like it was the only song they wanted to hear. Wouldn’t ya know it; “Refugee” was the last song they played before the encore. The kids were happy. By the way, throughout the entire show Tom Petty would put his arms up in the air after a song, or even during a song, begging for attention. I thought, “What are you doing old man? I don’t feel like applauding you yet, the song is not over.”

During the encore he did a cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” He dragged it out like a big long story and was saying stuff like “…I asked her out and she said no. She said she could never date a man like me. And I said, ‘honey don’t you know, I work for a living. I’m in a rock and roll band’…” When he said, “The wind blew her name…” that’s when he had the crowd join in echoing “gloria” after the song spells out “G-L-O-R-I-A.”

“American Girl” was a strong way to end the encore but by that time I was booking it up the hill to get out before the heard. I didn’t leave without a T-shirt though. I’m a sucker for over-priced tour T’s. We were also stopped at the exit to allow the bus to pass. They didn’t open the gates to let the mob out until Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers passed in the tour bus. What?! You mean they were already off stage and on the bus leaving by the time I bought my shirt and made it to the gate? Those old men move fast!

1. You Wreck Me
2. Listen To her Heart
3. I Won’t Back Down
4. Even The Losers
5. Free Fallin’
6. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
7. End Of The Line (from Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Harrison, and Orbison)
8. Breakdown
9. Saving Grace
10. Face In The Crowd
11. Honey Bee
12. Learning To Fly
13. Don’t Come Around Here No More
14. Refugee


1. Runnin’ Down A Dream
2. Gloria (Van Morrison cover)
3. American Girl

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