The Petty Archives
  • 1981-09-29_The-Red-and-Black

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Tom Petty and Heartbreakers to play Civic Center tonight
By Jay Watson
The Red & Black - September 29, 1981

One of rock music's most exciting and intelligent bands, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, play the Atlanta Civic Center tonight at 8:00. Petty and company bring along the turgid but bright sound and lyrical excellence which have graced four albums and the strength and commitment that has survived heat from the courts and record companies alike.

Petty, aided by guitarist Mike Campbell, bassist Ron Blair, drummer Stan Lynch and keyboardist Benmont Tench released two well-received, moderately successful albums before plunging into massive personal debt and eventual bankruptcy. Ironically, the bankruptcy kindled Petty's emotional resiliency and songwriting prowess to a level light years above his first pair of efforts.

"Damn the Torpedoes" and "Hard Promises," the resulting albums, may be viewed as companion pieces. "Torpedoes" crystallized Petty's trebly blend of Byrds-like electric 12-string guitar, crackling drum work and Tench's tremulous organ into a product for mass consumption and immense critical praise.

The sound pushed along Petty's lyrics, parables of sorts expressing an optimism not justified by the hardship the artist went through.

"Promises" found a more versatile use of sound, including Petty's voice, notably on the ballad duet with Stevie Nicks, "Insider," and the anguished "Woman In Love (It's Not Me)."
The lyrics took on a more worldly, less romantic perspective, as though Petty no longer had to convince himself of anything.

Petty's live show promises to be every bit as interesting as his studio efforts. It boils down to Atlanta's best concert booking in months and the beginning of what appears to be a great musical autumn. Tickets are $8.50 and $9.50.