Petty, Idol top long weekend of rock
By Scott Bernarde
The Palm Beach Post -- July 28, 1987
South Florida experienced a rock 'n' roll explosion this weekend -- more concerts than a fan could attend or afford.
It was a weekend of rebel rockers and $22 T-shirts, of 13-year-olds dressed in black mesh stockings, black lace, black minis and ruby lipstick.
In some cases it was rock 'n' roll at its best: pensive and provocative, raucous and unbridled; a couple hours of escape from whatever mind and body wanted to flee.
In other cases the music was uninspiring, filled with flurries of rapid notes with no purpose, screaming with no communication, volume without a voice.
Billy Idol, with his Elvis Sneer, Jim Morrison black leather and fist-clenched stance, drew the biggest crowd: 10,000 at the Hollywood Sportatorm Sunday night.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, however, made the biggest point to 6,500 at the West Palm Beach Auditorium Saturday night.
And Gregg Allman proved Friday night at Six Flags Atlantis that he has the nine lives of a stubborn cat and a survivor's somber but defiant blues growl.
Petty's musical fire
The high point of all this rock 'n' roll came in the middle of a show in the middle of the weekend.
Tom Petty was standing alone under a yellow spotlight strumming two chords. Drummer Stan Lynch was tapping out a dirge. Petty was telling the crowd about his fondness for Florida when he quietly shifted into the classic Buffalo Springfield protest song, For What It's Worth.
Petty brought the song to a full boil on the chorus. The whole band kicked in, and so did the audience.
While the Heartbreakers laid down a low, don't-mess-with-me beat, Petty asked: "I want to know if you trust Ronald Reagan?"
The crowd replied with a rousing "No!"
While the music bubbled in the background he also asked his fans if the trusted George Bush, the CIA, the FBI, the PTL, the PTA, Admiral Poindexter and Oliver North.
Each time the crowd yelled a fierce "No!"
The rest of his concert contained even more musical fire.
The finale was remarkable. Petty and company ran through Even the Losers, Jammin' Me, the band's latest hit single, and Refugee with unrelenting enthusiasm and energy. Ringing guitars, a galloping bass, propulsive drumming and sparkling keyboard work combined to steal the audience's emotions. Fans erupted into song and dance.
The Georgia Satellites, one of two opening acts, put the crowd in the proper frame of mind with engaging personalities and a set of good-time, blues-edged frat rock.
The other opening act, the Boston-based Del Fuegos, didn't have the material or personality to capture the audience.
Lead vocalist Dan Zanes' monotone drone quickly becomes grating. The additionist of a percussionist and keyboard player to the quartet's lineup wasn't much help.