The Petty Archives

A Riff Beneath The Tom Petty Sound
By Dan DeLuca
The Philadelphia Inquirer - June 25, 1999

"It really is a challenge," Mike Campbell is saying, talking from a tour stop in Detroit. "It's like throwing your children out of the boat to drown."

Campbell is talking about the most difficult part of his job as guitarist for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who will be at the Waterfront Entertainment Centre Saturday (with Lucinda Williams and Marah opening): choosing which tunes from Petty's immense catalog to play live each night, and which to kill.

For Petty, the radio hits have never stopped coming, going back to late '70s songs such as "American Girl," "Breakdown" and "Don't Do Me Like That" through to the '90s with "Free Fallin' " and "Free Girl Now" from the new, consistently good Echo (Warner Bros.).

Petty has remained remarkably constant musically, placing his stubborn, sneering vocals up against rock-solid songs that draw from a Byrds/Rolling Stones/Bob Dylan axis. And Petty has always counted as his principal instrumentalist his curly-haired buddy who's one of the understated and intelligent unsung guitar heroes in rock.

  • 1999-06-25_Washington-Observer-Reporter

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Perfect Petty? Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers put on an impressive show at Star Lake
By Brad Hundt
Washington Observer-Reporter - June 25, 1999

A few internet pranksters have been setting up Web sites over the past couple of years to inform the world that Tom Petty is, in fact, dead.

Just like the Paul-is-dead rumors that dogged the Beatles in 1969, they say Petty was actually replaced by an uncanny lookalike following his demise, and the clues can be found on album sleeves and lyrics. After all, what other logical conclusion can you draw from a line like "people come, people go, some grow young, some grow cold" from 1994's "You Don't Know How It Feels"?

Well, whoever that guy was on stage at the Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheater Wednesday night, he certainly seemed lively enough, turning in a satisfying and solid 23-song set. It was polished to such a flawless sheen, in fact, that it flirted with being a marvel of mechanics rather than music.

  • 1999-06-28_The-Michigan-Daily

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Review: Petty delivers the goods at 'Knob'
By Emily Achenbaum
The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 28, 1999

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | Pine Knob | June 18, 1999
The stage was set for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who performed at Pine Knob on June 18, to do something a little different -- and a little magical.

Petty's stage had a VH1's "Storytellers" meets Pier 1 Imports look, making the audience feel like they had been invited into Petty's private lair for the show. The set was strewn with candelabras, velvet pillows, oriental rugs and wooden trunks. Suspended above the band were translucent tapestries painted to look like stained glass. Four large ornate globes, glowing orange and blue as they slowly burned incense, hung from the pavilion ceiling over the audience.

Sure, it was a little new-age. But this is Tom Petty. And he was going to deliver a rock 'n' roll show.

A Pretty-Good Output That Holds The Crowd
By Dan DeLuca
The Philadelphia Inquirer - June 28, 1999

Tom Petty may be only an OK singer and a passable guitarist with the stage presence of a microphone stand. But so what? For more than two decades now, he's been writing one instantly memorable radio hit after another, and the '60s-inspired straw-haired rocker and his erstwhile band, the Heartbreakers, have built a career that's among the most reliable in rock.

Petty is the kind of artist that you wish were just a little bit better - he's got reams of pretty good songs, but only a handful of great ones. The solidly built Byrdsian rockers with catchy choruses, sneering vocals and just-right Mike Campbell guitar solos just keep coming, however, and pretty soon you're singing along to a song that you had forgotten existed.

On Saturday at the not-quite-sold-out Waterfront Entertainment Centre in Camden, the intergenerational crowd (over-30s under the roof, under-30s on the lawn) couldn't decide when to take a beer break. Should we go now? No, that's "Mary Jane's Last Dance," the 1993 hit that had Kim Basinger in the video. Let's go . . . no, that's "I Won't Back Down," the grabby anti-anthem from Petty's 1989 solo album. OK ... no, wait, that's "Room at the Top," another good one from the new album, Echo.

Petty Manages Mix Of Old And New
By Roger Catlin
Hartford Courant - June 30, 1999

The concert burden of a rock star with any longevity is to balance in concert the oldies fans expect with the new work he really wants to present.

The task for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is even more difficult, as the affable blond star admitted early in his storm-defying show at Hartford's Meadows Music Theatre on Tuesday.

"I've got so many songs to play for you tonight -- so many," he said.

Veteran U.S. Rocker Plays It Like A Pro
By Jane Stevenson
CANOE - July 7, 1999

Molson Amphitheatre - July 6, 1999
TORONTO -- Like the strong, cool breeze that finally broke Toronto's uncomfortable heatwave of the last few days, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were a welcome sight at the Molson Amphitheatre last night.

First of all, the seminal veteran rock 'n' roll outfit hadn't played here in four years, despite having released two excellent albums in that time -- 1996's soundtrack for She's The One, and this year's stellar Echo.

Tom Petty | Echo | (Warner Bros.) | 8/10
By Kate Silver
Minnesota Daily - July 9, 1999

Tom Petty is one of those rare musicians who is eternally hip. Always irreverent, he's the kind of man that will wear a black Armani suit with Converse sneakers, never forgoing his originality. No matter what the current trend is in music, he'll always come through with songs containing steady heartbeat-rhythms and the bittersweet harmonies that have become his trademark.

His latest EP, Echo, which he co-produced, features longtime backing-band The Heartbreakers, and is classic Petty: 15 tunes about love won and lost. Lyrically, Petty has the knack for both playing the advocate ("I Don't Wanna Fight") and addressing the troubled youngster with his seasoned fatherly advice ("Free Girl Now").

Echo is such a low-key record that it takes a few listens before you're really clued into his subtle genius. But when it comes, you suddenly feel as though you've been initiated into some secret club. His songwriting is straightforward and honest. Echo is comfort music in its purest form.

Tom Petty: Human Jukebox
By Jonathan Perry
The Boston Phoenix - July 15, 1999

Guess it was around the halfway mark of Tom Petty's two hour-plus, 23-song set at the Tweeter Center Friday night that the question struck me: even if we could stay here and hang with Tom and his Heartbreakers all night -- and a lot of folks looked like they'd be up for it -- would this human jukebox ever run out of hits? In the first 15 minutes alone, Petty gave us gleaming readings of "Jammin' Me," "Running Down A Dream," "Breakdown," and a good-as-gold new rocker, "Swingin'," from the superb new Echo (Warner Bros.) album.

Petty's New CD Reflects Breakup
By John Parkyn
Orlando Sentinel - July 25, 1999

What's the latest on Florida rock star Tom Petty? Wasn't he having marital problems?
After 26 years of marriage, the Gainesville-born leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers has experienced some heartbreak of his own. Last December he was divorced from his wife, Jane, 47, and is now in a relationship with a 35-year-old divorcee named Dana. Petty has two daughters from his marriage, Adria, 24, and Anna Kim, 17, and he is also playing daddy to Dana's 6-year-old son. On Echo, Petty's newly released CD, several of the songs, notably "Accused of Love," seem to reflect his ambivalence about the breakup of his marriage.