The Petty Archives

Review: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers rock the Qwest
By Kevin Coffey
Omaha World-Herald - Thursday, June 24, 2010

What a night. What a singalong.

When Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers delivered "American Girl," their most longstanding hit, the 10,000-plus in attendance answered back with loud, breathless singing of the inconic chorus: "Oh yeah. Alright. Take it easy, baby. Make it last all night. She was an American Girl."

While that song stood out the most, it certainly wasn't out of place as Petty and his band performed 18 songs on Wednesday night at Qwest Center Omaha.

"Well how are ya?" Petty said. "We're back in Omaha one more time. We got a lot of songs planned for ya tonight and, well, we're going to get right into it."

From the start, Petty dove headlong into his music. The set, just short of two hours, kicked off with "Listen To Her Heart," "You Don't Know How It Feels," "Won't Back Down" and "Free Fallin'", which Petty dedicated to "all the young lovers in the house, whether you're cheatin' or not."

A bearded Petty strutted and danced around the stage and was adored by the crowd. And he seemed to love it, grinning all the way and profusely thanking the audience at every turn.

The only dip in the show was a selection of six songs from the band's newer material. The band performed "Running Man's Bible," "Jefferson Jericho Blues," "First Flash of Freedom" and "I Should Have Known It" from the album "Mojo," which was released last week. Two other unfamiliar tunes were Petty's "Drivin' Down To Georgia" and the Peter Green's "Oh Well," which both appeared on last year's "The Live Anthology."

It's not that those songs are bad or didn't fit in with the rest of the set, but fans didn't know them well. While the crowd cheered at the end of each tune, they weren't familiar enough to get the crowd singing, clapping or dancing. In fact, many standing sat down in their seats and quite a few others bolted for the councourses as soon as the new songs began.

But the rest of the set was filled to the brim with songs the crowd recognized. There was "Last Dance With Mary Jane," "Breakdown," "Don't Come Around Here No More" and "Refugee." Those were followed with an encore including "Runnin' Down A Dream" and "You Wreck Me" before ending the night with "American Girl."

Absent from the set are classic rock radio staples such as "I Need To Know," "Here Comes My Girl," "Waiting," "You Got Lucky" and "Into The Great Wide Open." And nothing appeared from the four albums previous to "Mojo."

No complaints here. The show was pretty well-rounded already and would have lasted up to four hours if Petty decided to play every good song from his 15 albums.

The Heartbreakers -- Scott Thurston, Steve Ferrone, Ron Blair, Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell -- were fantastic. Described as Petty as the "co-captain," lead guitarist Campbell deserves more credit than he usually gets, which is not much. All night, he played stinging, fluid guitar solos that added depth and flair to the songs.

Before and during the show, the arena's corridors were abuzz with fans talking about how long they'd listened to Petty's music and how they had to see Petty and the Heartbreakers at least once.

"Thank you so much, from the band and from me," Petty said after the show ended. "It's been a pleasure being here. You come back and we'll come back. God bless you, Omaha."