The Petty Archives

Concert Review: Petty's as durable as timeless tradition
By Bruce Britt
The Vindicator - Thursday, November 14, 1991

Rocker Tom Petty is generous with concert themes that keep pleasing audiences.
LOS ANGELES -- The curtain went up around 8:30 Monday night at the Forum to reveal a stage festooned with folkloric artifacts such as a suit of armor, a totem pole and an old chest.

The scene surely seemed familiar to old Tom Petty fans. During their last jaunt, Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, had so much bric-a-brac in tow that the stage resembled an attic.

The clutter seemed like a visual device during that last tour, but the reappearance of these flourishes Monday suggested there is a method to Petty's madness. These hand-me-downs bespeak tradition, and the message Petty appears to be trying to get across is that he is as durable as that suit of armor -- a notion Petty reinforces in sturdily titled tunes, such as "I Won't Back Down" and "Built to Last."

Survivors: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- along with adjunct multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston -- demonstrated why they've been around for 15 years. The band offered a congenial performance that struck just the right balance between no-frills rock 'n' roll and Las Vegas-style staginess.

It's no wonder the show was as good as it was -- parts of the performance were lifted wholly from previous tours. During a dreamlike interpretation of "Don't Come Around Here No More," Petty re-created a scene where he is chased by men wearing the masks of former presidents.

He continued his tradition of performing "The Waiting" with a solo introduction instead of playing the tune in its fully arranged recorded version.