The Petty Archives

Tom Petty: Cool classics go down easy on a sweltering night
By Travis Hay
Seattle Post-Intelligencer -  Sunday, August 17, 2008

GEORGE --On a night when temperatures reached triple digits, the iconic music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cooled down a capacity crowd at the sweltering Gorge Amphitheatre Friday with a show chock full of classic rock staples.

Petty swayed and danced carelessly throughout the show as if he was letting the musicianship of the Heartbreakers, easily one of the best backing bands in rock history, carry him like a cool summer breeze. He definitely seemed to be enjoying himself a lot more than he did the last time he performed back-to-back nights at the Gorge three years ago. The mercury was in the three-digit range then too.

But as uncomfortable as the dry heat of eastern Washington made the concert, the music made the almost intolerable climate feel close to agreeable. During their two-hour set the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers sounded as crisp as they must have more than 30 years ago.

The show, the first to two consecutive sold-out stops at the Gorge for Petty, was almost like a greatest hits showcase. Things got started with "You Wreck Me" and from there Petty standards such as "Listen To Her Heart," "I Won't Back Down," "Breakdown," "Refugee" followed. "An American Girl" and "Runnin' Down a Dream," were perfect choices for Petty's encore.

Steve Winwood, another Hall of Famer, opened the show. During his set he mixed material from his solo career with songs from his days in Traffic and Blind Faith. In the middle of Petty's set Winwood reappeared and performed "Can't Find My Way Home" and The Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'" with Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Winwood's voice coupled with the chops of the Heartbreakers made for a nice break from the enjoyable barrage of Petty classics. The latter song was made into a lengthy jam, making it a memorable highlight during a night filled with classic songs and rock icons.