The Petty Archives

Petty and Heartbreakers rock out to new songs off
By Daniel Miller
The Daily Bruin - October 16, 200

Who more fitting than Jim Ladd, one of the last free-form radio DJ’s, to introduce Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for their Tuesday night show, as the band played its new album, "The Last DJ," in its entirety at the Grand Olympic Auditorium?

It’s not even too far a jump to conjecture that the album’s title track is about Ladd, who "plays what he wants to play." Tuesday’s show was broadcast live to radio stations and movie theaters around the nation, and the band put on an entertaining show for an hour and 45 minutes for those in the building and across the country.

Playing the album’s tracks in the order they appear on the LP, the band was accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Jon Brion, who arranged the strings on the album. Songs like "Money Becomes King" benefited from this collaboration, as Petty sneered about the terrible music industry over flowing violins and clanging guitars.

Dressed in black boots and a dark velvet jacket, Petty was the consummate rock star; and his band mates, lead guitarist Mike Cambell, drummer Steve Ferrone, keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Ron Blair and guitarist Scott Thurston also looked the part.

The stage did not feature any flashy decoration – the floor was covered in Persian rugs, and a screen behind the stage flashed images of the band and artwork from the album. The rows of guitars that lined the back of the stage revealed Petty’s rock ’n’ roll intentions.

In fact, some of the weaker songs on the "The Last DJ," like the cliché-laden "Joe," which is about a corrupt CEO, were given new life, as Campbell’s wonderful guitar work elevated the music. Petty introduced "Like a Diamond" as one of his favorites, and the song was a beautiful expression of love amid the songs about corruption and greed.

The album’s last two songs, "Have Love, Will Travel," and "Can’t Stop The Sun," are clearly highlights of "The Last DJ," and their optimistic tones made for a fitting conclusion to the first portion of the show.

For an encore, Petty and the band played four of their hits, including a version of "Mary Jane’s Last Dance," which featured a dueling guitar assault that left the audience in a frenzy. After hearing 12 new songs, the crowd reacted well to the hits, and the familiar "You Wreck Me," and "I Need to Know," were both pleasing to the ears.