The Petty Archives

An Encore Performance: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers put on dynamic local show
Melissa Schneider
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin - May 9, 2012

Southwest Florida Tom Petty fans were wowed when the legendary story-teller paired back up with the very talented Heartbreakers (Steve Ferrone, Mike Campbell, Scott Thurston, Ron Blair and Benmont Tench) for a dynamic show Tuesday night at Germain Arena.

Opening the show was sweet little Regina Spector from New York, performing on her grand piano, accompanied by her band, consisting of a cellist, keyboardist and drummer.

Regina's voice is very sweet, she can really hit the high notes, and her skills on the piano are fantastic. Her music is very lively, soft and upbeat, and the rising star regularly thanked the audience and showed her appreciation for the grand applause after every song.

Following Regina's opening set, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took the stage, with the crowd roaring to its feet in great delight and anticipation.

Tom opened the show by stating, "I've got nowhere else to be, so I'm gonna be here for a while," followed by the audience again roaring with excitement.

He did just that, performing for longer than two hours, showing much appreciation to his music-loving audience while entertaining with all of his biggest hits, along with some deep tracks and even a request from the audience!

Just some of the several songs the band performed include, "Refugee," "Won't Back Down," "Lover's Touch," "Something Big," "The Last DJ," "The Waiting," "Southern Accents," "The Best of Everything," "It's Good to be King," "Free Falling," "Into the Great Wide Open," "Good Enough" and "Runnin' Down a Dream."

Between each song, the crowd would chant, "Petty! Petty! Petty!" and you can tell Tom and his group really took all of the love to heart.

Before performing "The Best of Everything," Tom was sure to send a dedication to Levon Helm, former drummer of the band, who passed away after a long battle with cancer. "This is dedicated with all our love to the great Levon Helm," the lead singer stated.

Through the entire length of "Free Falling," the audience sung every single word, throwing up lighters, flashing peace signs, and all singing as one. It was enough to give anyone goosebumps from the intense positive energy flowing through the stadium.

His story-telling gene really shined during his intro to "Spike," speaking of Gainsville's Big Cypress Lounge back in the '90s , and how he was a little intimidated at the time to even go in there, as it's a place where big, mean, spiked-dog-collar-wearing bikers and "guitar thieves" hang out. Turns out the proverbial tables were turned, as he mentioned in his song!

After a huge performance and rants and raves from his audience, Tom and his band graciously left the stage, shortly followed by the road crew coming in and taking down the set. But, Petty fans weren't having it. They continued chanting, "Petty! Petty! Petty!" while waving lit lighters and lit cellphone displays.

After several minutes of chanting, cheering and thinking about what songs could possibly be left for the band to perform, Tom and his Heartbreakers returned to the stage after what turned out to be a quick cigarette break!

They proceeded to perform a two-song encore, featuring "Last Dance for Mary Jane" and "American Girl."

Guitarist Mike Campbell continued flipping guitar picks into the audience and sending love to those that weren't as close to the stage as the lucky floor-laden audience members.

After the two encore songs, the humbled band then gathered together in the front of the stage and bowed to their very gracious audience.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are finishing up their tour across the country in Texas, picking back up for their international string through Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France and Italy next month.

For more information on the international superstars, visit TomPetty.com.