The Man has been crushing me lately. But even The Man graciously gives hard-working punks like me a day off now and again. And when that happens, BRP often opts for some R&R. Yep, live rock ‘n roll!
It was a baby-boomers rock ‘n roll fest Saturday night in Philly. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, on the last East Coast stop of their 40th anniversary (!) tour, and Peter Wolf, the 71 year-old former lead singer for the J. Geils Band, did the arena thing at the Wells Fargo Center. BRP was there with a sizeable cohort, and it was pre-2000 for a few hours again. Well, except we did things a wee bit differently this time, starting with a big-ass bbq on the Main Line. We chuckled at the tailgaters who apparently thought that the Eagles were playing and who, after sitting in the parking lot sucking exhaust for hours, invariably showed up late and missed Peter Wolf. Hahaha, at least they got to check their emails and take selfies on the hot bitumen.
Peter Wolf came out right at 8, and played for almost an hour. Does he still have it? My, oh my, this guy can still sing, is a showman, can dance and move, and brought with him a tight backup band and a catalog of J. Geils tunes in which to indulge. Remember songs like “I Musta Got Lost” and “Give It To Me?” That’s what I’m talking about. And I had forgotten how soulful some of those old tunes were … and his new stuff, too. The Wolfman was good, and we enjoyed his set quite a bit. Check out the pics:
Next up was the main event.
I’ve seen Petty a bunch of times, in the 70s and 80s, and more recently since I moved to Philly. He hasn’t changed much as a performer. Tom is not the most dynamic guy you will ever see, but he is gracious (he must have said “thank you” and “you’re a fantastic crowd” about 40 times) and he allows the Heartbreakers, particularly lead guitarist Mike Campbell, to share the spotlight.
And what a catalog of songs!
On the way down, we were running through the songs we wanted to hear, and then went around and asked what particular song each individual wanted most to hear. I think he hit 3 of 6. Disappointed? Well, let’s examine that. I saw Springsteen last year, and he played for FOUR hours. Petty? Two hours. No one should expect a band to play 4 hours, but I think 2 ½ from a guy of Petty’s stature is not out of the question. Moreover, we weren’t at Union Transfer where we payed $15 to get in. Add a zero at the end of that, and you get to the ticket price. For that amount of dough, you expect a little more, right?
But that extra half-hour still wouldn’t have been sufficient time. It’s amazing how many great songs Petty has written that you know by heart, and he didn’t come close to playing them all. It’s a heavy tribute to the dude that he has such ample material that he can play a bunch of bit hits and satisfy the crowd, but at the same time, ignore another bunch of big hits. If another artist had just those songs that Petty didn’t play, he would have been headlining an arena somewhere and being inducted into the rock ‘n roll hall of fame. Tom Petty is truly one of America’s best songwriters of the rock era.
Other than the issue of we didn’t get to hear everything we wanted to hear (waah, waah!), it was a night of great songs. The crowd was enthusiastic, sang along, and since it was Saturday, even the geriatric crew was out to have fun. Petty still has the same manner about him as he always has had: the loveable stoner. He is the epitome of laid-back. It’s a cliché to say that he lets his music carry the load, but Petty must be the origin of that cliché. It was a really fun show, and one definitely worth attending.
As you can tell from the pics, we weren’t front row center stage. We were center stage, but a little bit further back. One thing I learned about arena shows a long time ago is this: unless you are in the first 5-10 rows on the floor, you are far better off being elevated in the lower bowl of the arena. That’s what we opted for. The other thing I learned is that the sound board is elevated center stage at the end of the floor. If you want the best acoustics, try to line up with the sound board. We checked that box, too, and were pretty happy with the sound given that it’s a sports arena (hey, Flyers fans, it’s tiresome to hear “Let’s Go Flyers” being chanted in the men’s room during a concert – at least make the freakin’ playoffs before you go sticking out that chest, ok?).
We zipped home and on the way witnessed an incredibly beautiful moon. It was a half moon, low on the horizon, huge, and orange in color. While we had Full Moon Fever, it was really great stuff, and a mystical ending to a great night.
Catch up with me soon as there is more live music to cover, and then a bunch of great posts that I have been slavishly working on for the dog days. And oh my god, is September going to be HUGE! I hope that you and yours are good. Hang loose.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.