Dylan influence obvious in Petty concert
By Melanie Mars
Washington Observer-Reporter - June 24, 1987
It's been too long since Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were in Pittsburgh, and from the reaction of the Civic Arena crowd Monday, they were missed.
Nearly two hours and one encore of Tom Petty's band of rock 'n' roll was not enough for fans who had not seen him in Pittsburgh for almost four years.
Waiting for a ride after the concert, two barefoot fans were still dancing and singing in the rain.
From the beginning of his set, Petty had the crowd where he wanted it and kept it there. He started with the familiar "Breakdown" a song that is usually saved for the end. The standing crowd cheered, sang the lyrics and drowned out the singer.
While it was a shorter than usual concert version of the song, the crowd lit lighters and swung t-shirts afterwards in appreciations.
The band's set was a mixture of old and new songs, with the old sounding fresher than the original versions. The familiar "Refugee" and "The Waiting is the Hardest Part" with the older "An American Girl" and "She Don't Need You" were played with renewed vigor.
Frequently Petty utilizes a pregnant pause when playing a song just long enough to motivate the crowd to excitement before he continues.
Five songs were played from the band's new album including "Runaway Trains," "It'll All Work Out," "Think About Me," and "My Life/Your World."
On "Jammin' Me," which was co-written with Bob Dylan, Petty substituted Talluah Bankhead and Jerry Falwell for Vanessa Redgrave and Joe Piscopo, as if to drive home the point that he did not mean those celebrities in particular but the idea of "a celebrity."
Whether Petty has been hanging out with Dylan too much or his friendship with Dylan evolved from his involvement in charity concerts for Farm Aid and to protest nuclear weapons and power, the influence on Petty was evident.
Between songs, he spoke of seeing the country from the bus the band rides from city to city.
While he extolled the virtues of the countryside, he said some things "worried him" as he looked out the back window. "Every time I see a nuclear power plant, I worry. Every time I see someone looking for food on the street, I worry," he said. "Then I turn on the T.V. and the six o'clock news is on and that worries me even more."
At another time, he asked the crowd if it trusted the Reagan, Falwell, the F.B.I, the C.I.A., the F.D.A. Each time the crowd shouted "No" or booed.
But Petty did most what Petty does best, he played good old rock 'n' roll with a driving beat. Songs like "Here Comes My Girl" and "Even the Losers" from his "Damn the Torpedoes" album in 1980, which went full steam ahead and put the Heartbreakers solidly on the charts.
Petty has always played some of the standard rock n' roll tunes of other artists at his concerts and this one was no different. Instead of the familiar Heartbreaker version of "Shout" by the Isley Brothers, he played "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by the Clash and "For What It's Worth," the Stephen Stills/Buffalo Springfield tune, whose words are more familiar than the title.
At one point, a bottle was hurled toward the stage by a rowdy fan. Petty, who was gearing up for another song, stopped. He shouted to the offender not to throw things and added "I've got more friends here than you."
The crowd cheered. He began to play and sing "Don't Come Around Here No More" and glared in the direction from which the bottle had come.
The rest of the crowd happily sang along and danced in the aisles.
The Heartbreakers teamed with the Del Fuegos and the Georgia Satellites, whose song "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" has become a hit, for the Rock n' Roll Caravan tour.
Although the Georgia Satellites' set seemed a little short, they played all of their better-known songs including "Battleship Chains," "Railroad Steel," "Can't Stand the Pain" and of course, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." They even threw in a foot-stomping rendition of "No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry.
As the Del Fuegos played, many concert-goers were still finding their way to their seats or mulling outside of the Civic Arena. While they were not as familiar to the audience as the other two bands, they were worth at least a listen.
The choice of the Georgia Satellites and the Del Fuegos was good. All three bands play the same style of music. For those who can't get enough of a good thing, it was heaven.