Heartbreakers have universal appeal
By Marilyn Martinez
The Daily Sundial - Thursday, June 11, 1987
Petty opens at Amphitheatre
Even though it was a Monday and nearly midnight, after two hours of polished, inspired blues-tempered rock from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the audience still wanted more on the opening night of his four-night stint at the Universal Amphitheatre.
Petty, whose new album "Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)" signals a return to the straight-forward rock of his "Damn the Torpedoes" album (1980), played songs from most of his eight albums including the ever-popular older songs like "Breakdown" and "American Girl" as well as new songs "Runaway Train" and "Jammin' Me."
Although Petty may have returned to flesh and bones rock, it's rock that is less introspective and more socially conscious. "My Life, Your World" was written after Petty saw the mid-air collision of two planes over Cerritos and the surfing riots of Huntington Beach on television. He waned to let the audience in on his newfound voice.
"I feel a little crazy tonight," Petty said, dressed in Levi's, a black vest and blazer.
"LA does something strange to me. I saw eight homeless people here and the smog. I live here and I can't breathe here. And I'm afraid to watch the news. I'm going to do a song that seems fitting now," Petty said. This was his preamble to a soulful cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth."
Throughout the show Petty, whose stage presence gets stronger each year, courted the audience with a sly smile, toasted Los Angeles and smoothly crept across the stage.
It was a night for Petty and the Heartbreakers alone. No Bob Dylan, no horn section and no extra back-up singers. And it was clear that the Heartbreakers (Mike Campbell on guitar, Benchmont Tench on keyboards, Howie Epstein on bass and Stan Lynch on drums) are one of the tightest bands around. They are all Petty needs to produce free-wheeling, but heart-felt rock and pop songs.
There was only one hint of last year's co-tour with Dylan. For this, Petty strapped on his acoustic guitar for a one-song Dylan tribute followed by a Petty-ized version of the Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go."
Even after two hours, there still was not enough time for Petty classics like "I Need To Know." Their material after eight albums is still growing and getting better. But as Petty said, "We got plenty of time -- don't worry."
The Del Fuegos opened the show with a set of indistinctive rock, although a Petty influence could be detected.