The Petty Archives

Acoustics Wilt Petty
By John Metzger
The Music Box - March 1995

This was my first visit to the newly constructed United Center, and hopefully there won't be many more visits in the future. While the layout is nice, the acoustics are abominable. Built to amplify the crowd noise at a sporting event, this stadium should NOT be used as a concert venue. At times, the crowd was so loud, it was nearly impossible to hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

As for the show, Petty and company blasted out a number of songs in a greatest hits fashion. Much to my disappointment, most of the songs were played note for note off the albums. The highlights were Mary Jane's Last Dance and It's Good to Be King which showed how good Petty and his band can be. These songs were given a Crazy Horse, feedback-laden touch with some lengthy guitar duets from Petty and Mike Campbell.

Petty was quite playful as well and really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the crowd. He even led the band through the blues standard I Just Want to Make Love to You, since he was visiting Chicago. A number of times throughout the show, Petty donned his acoustic guitar and plowed through some more mellow songs such as Wildflowers and Don't Fade on Me, both of which were poorly received by the chatty, hit-seeking crowd.

Pete Droge opened the show for Petty and proved to be more versatile than I had previously thought. Unfortunately, by the time he got warmed up, it was time for him to leave the stage.

Droge's material is sort of a cross between Petty and Crazy Horse. Toward the end of his set, Droge and guitarist Jeffrey Trapp tore through some killer jams reminiscent of Neil Young. It's amazing how often Neil's sound is popping up all over the place these days, and it's quite a tribute to his talent and incredible influence!