The Petty Archives

Music: Petty leads celebration with passion, precision
By Tim Roets
The Milwaukee Sentinel - Saturday, June 20, 1987

East Troy -- They called the three-band blowout "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Rock & Roll Caravan," a celebration of potent, bare-bones rock 'n' roll that thrilled the estimated 8,000 in attendance at Alpine Valley Music Theater.

Petty and company always put on emotionally charged shows, and Friday night was no exception. But they couldn't go wrong with such a strong repertoire and symbiotic musical relationship.

Clad simply in jeans, white T-shirt and black leather vest, Petty seemed more dynamic than ever. Eyes twinkling, he sang with a plaintive nasal tone that shone with barely restrained passion and played his guitar with understated precision.

From the loping, funky kick of "Breakdown" to the beautifully crafted pop of "American Girl" and the neo-psychedelia of "Don't Come Around Here No More," the Heartbreakers laid down a masterful backdrop that glowed with sturdy, compelling musicianship.

Lead guitarist Mike Campbell, a master of wringing feeling from his electric guitar, joined with Petty in chiming, cascading patterns on "Here Comes My Girl" and "The Waiting" and added sweet, subtle filigree on "Breakdown."

Benmont Tench's churning keyboard work was integral to the band's full, layered sound. And the rhythm section -- bassist and ex-Milwaukeean Howie Epstein and drummer Stan Lynch -- was precise and unwavering.

Recently released songs such as the free-wheeling "Think About Me" were just as sturdy as the old songs, and the covers -- Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" -- was chiseled with the same propulsive Heartbreakers sound.

The Del Fuego's half-hour opening set was an excellent example of back-to-basics rock, but the real kudos go to the Georgia Satellites, four hard-rockin' Rebs from Atlanta who pulled the crowd to its feet with a raw 40-minute set.