Petty still hot
By Bill Harris
The Daily Aztec - Tuesday, January 22, 1980
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | Golden Hall | January 18
Tom Petty seems surprisingly unaffected by the legal hassles which have beset him for nearly a YEAR AND A HALF. Stemming from the purchase of his original label, ABC, by the giant MCA, Petty's problems curtailed nearly all his live and studio performances.
With the liabilities sorted out, and with a new label, (MCA subsidiary Backstreet), Petty has resumed his position as the leader of the new rock 'n' rollers. On his current West coast tour, Petty is offering a musical apology for his hiatus in the form of solid, unrestrained music that is producing sell outs and standing room only shows at almost every stop.
Friday night's show at Golden Hall was especially rewarding to the San Diego audience, whose last encounter with the riding performer came two years ago at Montezuma Hall. The Friday show sold out quickly and brought a crowd of anxious fans, from aging hard core rockers to "Beatles who?" youngsters.
In trademark black pants and vest, Petty controlled the crowd from the start, moving around the stage pointing his guitar at the screaming fans in the first few rows. Rumors about him having laryngitis proved far from the truth as he added punctuating screams to choice songs.
The sound Petty achieves in concert is close enough to his album productions to make recognition of tunes a simple matter for the audience. With an outstanding collection of musicians art his side, Mike Campbell on guitar, Stan Lynch playing drums, Benmont Trench on piano and Ron Blair filling the bass guitar position, Petty plays simple music with a solid, forceful thrust that maintains its energy even through his more choppy numbers.
Petty's band is by no means a backup group. Each member added a distinct sound. Both Campbell and Lynch took the spotlight at times, adding a quick guitar or drum spot to fill out the sound.
The list of Petty hits is long enough to keep a crowd alive and on its feet pressing to the front of the stage all evening long. "Breakdown" brought a big surge of riotous response as did another early hit, "I Need To Know."
When the time arrived to play his current hit "Don't Do Me Like That," Petty was able to move the audience with just a wink or pout. And when the tune was performed, the crown proved more than a match for the yellow shirted bouncers restraining them from the stage.
The evening was an even trade of energies between band and audience. Petty retained his crown as the new rock prince and belied his early classification as just another new wave performer. The audience proved that not all San Diegans are mindless listeners during concerts. And any questions as to where music is going in the new decade were conclusively answered by Tom Petty's "You're Gonna Get It" attitude.