Concet Review: Petty proves there's still hope for rock
By Heather Lalley
The Spokesman-Review - November 9, 2002
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, with Jackson Browne | Thursday, Nov. 7, Spokane Arena
Near the end of his passionate, freewheeling show Thursday at the Spokane Arena, Tom Petty articulated a sentiment he had already made plain for much of his two-hours-plus set:
"We want to disprove the rumor that rock 'n' roll is dead," he told a packed, screaming Arena crowd. "Rock 'n' roll is very much alive. I can feel its heart beating in Spokane tonight."
That statement is more than a rock 'n' roll nicety coming from Petty, who just released "The Last DJ." The album is a scathing indictment of a bottom-line-driven music industry that, as Petty sings in the title track, celebrates mediocrity.
Yet there's hope for rock -- as long as Petty and his expert band, The Heartbreakers, keep making music.
Very much alive, Petty pleases with old favorites, new tunes
By Emily Russin
The Seattle Times - Monday, November 11, 2002
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | With Jackson Browne | Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Although many Web sites insist that Tom Petty is dead, the 52-year-old singer looked and sounded very much alive at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday night.
The 2001 Music Hall of Fame inductee with the butter-blond tresses unleashed the soulful nasal twang that's stood the test of time over more than a dozen albums. Playing to a howling, Bic-wielding crowd that remained on its feet for 2½ hours and for more than 20 songs, Petty and his band spanned more than three decades.
Petty and the Heartbreakers released their latest album, "The Last DJ," in October, the first group effort since the middling success of "Echo" in 1999.
The night began with the title track from "DJ," a controversial song that could be read as an indictment of the music industry but, as the singer himself explained, is really about the scourge of corporate America through a particular lens.
"We're really proud to say we're here on this tour with no corporate sponsors whatsoever," Petty said midshow to supportive cheers. "Corporate America takes everything away, but they can't take away your right to say, 'I won't do that,' and they can't take away your right to dream."
Records Review: Phases and Stages
By Christopher Gray
The Austin Chronicle - November 15, 2002
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | (Warner Bros.) | ★★★½
It's no doubt a coincidence that lead-off/title track "The Last DJ" opens as a dead ringer for Leonard Cohen's "The Future." Instead of irony-dripping requests for crack and anal sex, Tom Petty just wants a radio station with some imagination, man (what a hippie). But like Cohen, Costello, and Bowie, steady Petty is a long way from his AARP card. His commentaries on the bottom-line-obsessed music business on the first four tracks are well-meaning, if sanctimonious; "Joe" castigates a fat-cat CEO with a dissonant guitar lick even more scabrous than the lyrics. The witty "Money Becomes King" revisits Johnny from "Into the Great Wide Open" as a middle-aged shill for lite beer who "rocks that golden circle." Once Petty gets down off his soapbox, he and the Heartbreakers get on with the real business at hand. With longtime collaborators Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench providing their usual AM gold, even throwaways "When a Kid Goes Bad" and "You and Me" radiate hummable warmth. And when it's good, it's really good: "Like a Diamond" contains one of Petty's most memorable choruses; enlisting Lindsey Buckingham for backup vocals on the comically burlesque "The Man Who Loves Women" is a stroke of genius; and the full-bodied valedictory "Have Love Will Travel" deserves a spot on heaven's jukebox. There will always be a place for irascible codgers like Petty. Maybe not atop the charts, but definitely in the hearts of the faithful.
Tom Petty disillusioned but still loves the music
By Greg Kot
Chicago Tribune - November 17, 2002
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — "We're very proud to say we're on this tour tonight with no corporate sponsor," Tom Petty is saying on a cool, clear Southern California evening at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the opening night of a national tour that brings him and his excellent band, the Heartbreakers, to the United Center on Dec. 11.
"We're brought to you by . . . you," Petty drawls.
It's what passes for a manifesto in the world of the Florida boy who has spent the last 30 years living just down the Pacific Coast Highway from this idyllic coastal town. California is where he realized his dreams of becoming a rock 'n' roll star, and also found out firsthand about Rock 'n' Roll Inc. Like a hungry stray that's just found a bone, Petty does not let go easily once he sinks his teeth into a subject that's been an obsession since he first picked up a guitar. His latest album, "The Last DJ" (Warner), is all about the promise of rock 'n' roll, and the wariness it instilled in him.
Petty fine-tunes industry message
By Michael D. Clark
Houston Chronicle - Monday, November 18, 2002
Pearl Jam challenged Ticketmaster's control of the concert industry eight years ago by touring without the ticket distributor's support. The coup failed, but the process helped launch a Justice Department antitrust investigation (later dropped) and got marquee artists like Tom Petty to join the fight.
It's taken Petty a few years to strap on his gloves. He spent the latter-half of the '90s regrouping the Heartbreakers and working through a divorce. Friday night at the Compaq Center, however, he came freshlyshaved, nattily dressed and ready to take on the music industry.
The battle for artistic freedom is the central focus of his new concept album The Last DJ. But like a taped speech or political form letter, it is a pre-conceived manifesto. By avoiding corporate sponsors, selling some tickets (albeit through Ticketmaster) for less than $20 and giving a passionate performance, his live actions spoke louder than recorded word.
Tom Petty's lyrical storytelling dabbles in satire, realism and controversy
By Carlina Villalpando
The Yellow Jacket -- November 21, 2002
Anyone with even a smidge of good musical taste has probably engaged in some conversation about the demise of the music industry. We complain that music quality flails and that artists would rather be famous than truly connect with their audience.
Though, recently, we seem to be finding some reprieve as the notoriety of the biggest and worst pop stars, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and others, appear to be dying, we can't let our guards down, turning the radio back on just yet.
Music: Petty releases album, goes on tour
Review by Benjamin Freed
The Justice - Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Tom Petty | The Last DJ | Warner Brothers | Grade: B+
To the excitement of their longtime fans, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers welcome their latest release, "The Last DJ," with a U.S. tour that culminates in Boston on Saturday, Dec. 14. The concert promises to be an event of good, solid rock from a living legend, as the album foretells.
On the initial listen of the album, Petty sounds a little like a cranky, aging rock star -- which he is, to some extent -- but there is much more to this album.
While reminiscing about the better days of rock 'n' roll, Petty also takes the time to point out today's corporate bastardization of music. The title track starts out with the lyrics, "Well, you can't turn him into a company man / You can't turn him into a whore," in a song about a disc jockey who refuses to buckle into corporate pressure and eventually winds up on a weak station out of Mexico.
Much of the album contains his brand of romanticism and cynicism that signifies classic Heartbreakers music.
Tom Petty | The Last DJ | Warner Bros.
By Tim Grierson
Broward-Palm Beach New Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002
Father to dozens of car-radio classics, Tom Petty in his later years has sidestepped his sing-along wizardry for a more somber, introspective feel. As if equating maturity with acoustic guitars and whispered vocals, Petty captured a dynamic, autumnal grace with 1994's Wallflowers but has since traversed shaky terrain. He can't fully give up his reckless, charming youthfulness, but he's not deep enough for meaningful artistic statements. In the process, he's become just one more slightly boring middle-aged rocker. His uptempo stompers now have stretch marks, while he pours orchestra upon orchestra into his tender ballads, which classic-rock stations aren't gonna play anyway.
That over-the-hill stench gets a little more pungent with The Last DJ, Petty's kinda/sorta concept album about the evils of the music industry. Still, when he's not trying to satirize the biz -- where his targets are obvious and caricaturish -- he falls back on his considerable songwriting strengths. It should be no surprise that the old dog defeats the new tricks by a wide margin.
Editor's Note: They screwed up Mike Campbell's name and I find it very amusing.
There Goes the Last Rock Band
By Laila Derakhshanian
The Daily Titan - Thursday, December 5, 2002
REVIEW: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers revived their classics while introducing new songs from their latest album
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed in their hometown to celebrate mediocrity with an audience Petty referred to, and what actually felt like, friends.
At the Forum in Inglewood on Nov. 23, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took to stage to play new music from their latest album, "The Last DJ," and to reach deep into their catalog for classic tunes, "Hope you don't have to get home soon. We'll travel," Petty forewarned.