Columbus, OH, Germain Amphitheater, June 14, 2006

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

There are not many artists touring today whose songs can carry a show at a venue holding thousands instead of hundreds. Dave Matthews has been pulling it off for about a decade now, but Tom Petty has been doing it for over 30 years. Although there was a nice stage show filled with screens and stage lighting, Petty and his Heartbreakers definitely use their seemingly infinite library of hits to enthrall over 10,000 people for 90-plus minutes. And when Stevie Nicks is added to the equation for a smattering of songs as well, it just makes for a near-perfect night.

 

It has been about four years since Petty last landed in Columbus, but it didn't take the fans long to learn to fly again with this folk-meets-rock singer. As Petty strolled out in his signature blazer, boots and cowboy-tight jeans, it took mere minutes for the Heartbreakers to break out into a slew of hits that would feast the appetite of the masses, much as if raw meat was being thrown to starving lions. From the first chords of You Don't Know How It Feels, it was time for dancing, smoking and singing. And there was a lot of the latter two happening throughout the night. Heck, even Petty spoke it up when he was reminiscing about the old days and heading to his girlfriends house because "they usually had weed."

Although Columbus may have been shortchanged a bit as the set was just over 90 minutes versus the normal two hours, the set was packed full if punch and most of the audience seemed just as pleased with the shortened set. Petty and the Heartbreakers kept the set moving at a nice pace with some audience communication, but not enough to disrupt the flow of the songs.

 

Even as Petty rolled through his hits, there was the undertone of anticipation to see Stevie Nicks join Petty on stage to sing some of their beautiful ballads. Of course everyone was expecting Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, but to play the early ballad I Need to Know was thrilling and hear heart-stopping. And after waiting a few beats for the crow to stop cheering, Petty responded with, "Just having some fun is all. Just having some fun."

 

And for Petty and The Heartbreakers, that is all it seems on stage. Just some guys having fun, playing their tunes and the fact that thousands are witnessing the events each night seem secondary. There could be 15 or 15,000 and it would seem the show would be the same.

For those experiences Petty fans and aficionados, the show not just proved to be yet another wonderful live performance, but the fact that two songs from the bands forthcoming studio record (first in four years), Highway Companion, were not just played, but sounded vintage Petty and The Heartbreakers. The more upbeat Saving Grace and the softer Square One were proof that this bans still has something to offer the music world. All too often, band continue to put out new music when in reality, no song past 1989 should continue to be played, but Petty showed The Heartbreakers are still as important and formidable as they were in 1976, when the Gainesville, Florida band hit the studio for the firs time.

Stevie Nicks
Tom Petty
Tom Petty
Tom Petty
Stevie Nicks
Benmont Tench & Mike Campbell