The Petty Archives

Petty ends up pushing all the right buttons
Boston Globe - June 20, 2005

MANSFIELD -- Tom Petty no longer rocks as consistently as he used to -- his shows were once famed for being front-to-back barnburners -- but he still has enough left to get the job done on a Saturday night.

A sold-out crowd of 19,900 fans saw Petty & the Heartbreakers pace themselves early in this two-hour performance, before erupting with the Petty euphoria of old. The flashing of strobe lights on "Don't Come Around Here No More" seemed to ignite the whole show from that point forward. The band then blistered into vintage hits "Refugee" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" (with guitarist Mike Campbell in overdrive), leading to encores of "You Wreck Me" (with fans pogoing wildly) and a free-spirited cover of Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," with its immortal line, "Everybody must get stoned."

Petty had warmed up slowly, but ended up pushing all the right buttons for a well-oiled crowd that packed the beer lines (paying mostly $7.50 a pop) until they were finally shut down. And Petty, to his credit, didn't just do the hits. He surprised with a cover of the Animals' "Don't Bring Me Down" (which he once did at the Paradise), plus a Traveling Wilburys tune ("Handle With Care"), and two new originals. The first was the uncompelling "Turn This Car Around," a seemingly half-formed track that will be on his next album; and the second the more interesting "Melinda," a dark, Johnny Cash-like song with a tasty, jazz-piano break from Benmont Tench.

Unlike some of the sumptuous, living room-like stage sets he has employed in the past, Petty & Co. played this time in front of a wall of Jumbotron screens cut by stark, geometric frames that splintered their live, black-and-white images into various angled blocks. It was more high-tech, but Petty still brought his down-home Florida charm, opening with the shimmering "Listen to Her Heart," tackling "Breakdown" (which he noted was first played by Boston's WBCN-FM 104.1), and easing through "Free Fallin' " and "Learning to Fly." It was a slow build, but the band flew by the end.

The Black Crowes played an extended opening set (75 minutes) that was divided between Saturday night party rock and Sunday morning gospel-flavored soul. The band's jams were a bit too loose, but singer Chris Robinson cemented the set beautifully with "Soul Singing," "Jealous Again," and "She Talks to Angels."