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Tom Petty and The Black Crowes Concert Review
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers / The Black Crowes
Marcus Amphitheater (Summerfest)
Milwaukee, WI

by: John Paulsen

Paulsen Home / Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

ALSO! Check out John's recap of Summerfest and more reviews from the event:

Steve Winwood
John Mellencamp and John Fogerty
Weezer and Pixies

While the quality of Tom Petty's albums has declined in recent years, the quality of his live shows has remained a constant. Much like the presence of death and taxes, you know you're in for a good time at a Petty show. This summer, he and the Heartbreakers are on tour (with the recently-reunited Black Crowes as support) and Friday they stopped at Milwaukee's Summerfest.

Kate Hudson is married to Crowes frontman Chris Robinson and if the rumor is true and she's really responsible for getting the Black Crowes back together, it's the best thing she's done in the last five years (in 2000, she starred as the groupie Penny Lane in "Almost Famous"). The band apparently hasn't missed a beat as they worked their way through an 11-song set list that spanned just under an hour. The first half of the set focused on the band's lesser-known tunes -- highlights being "Gone" from Amorica and an extended version of "My Morning Song" from The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. The midpoint of the show was marked by the excellent "Sometimes Salvation" (also off of Companion), which featured some passionate vocals by Chris Robinson. His brother, Rick Robinson, led a hefty guitar section through most of the set, showing he still has the talent that drove the Crowes to stardom in the early '90s. The back half of the set featured more familiar tunes, including "Jealous Again," the only song from the band's debut, Shake Your Money Maker, included in the set list. The underrated "No Speak No Slave" and the always excellent "Remedy" (both from Companion) rounded out the solid yet unspectacular set, which was sans encore. I'm sure there were more than a few Crowes fans that left the venue wishing they had heard "Hard To Handle," "Twice As Hard" or "She Talks To Angels."

Set list (from www.amorica.org):

Greasy Grass River
Paint an 8
My Morning Song
Space Captain
Sometimes Salvation
Shake Your Money Maker
Hotel Illness
Jealous Again
No Speak No Slave

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been making music for more than 30 years and their experience certainly shows. While their youthful creativity has waned in their later years -- the records are coming at a slower pace and haven't been as well received -- their live act hasn't changed all that much in the last decade and a half. Their blueprint seems to be to start off strongly with several hits, try out a new song or two along with a few more hits and a few lesser-known tunes in the middle, and then finish strong.

Following this blueprint, the band jumped out of the gate with the old hit "Listen to Her Heart" and the stoner anthem "You Don't Know How It Feels." The latter was especially well received by the 'partakers' in the crowd (likely a good percentage given the opening act and the unmistakable scent in the air). Next up was a song that they haven't "played in a while," the terrific "Breakdown." (There is a great live version of this song available on the Pack Up The Plantation: Live! disc released in 1986.) Next up was "Free Fallin'," the song that gave Petty new life and a new generation of fans in 1989. After trying out a new song, the repetitive "Turn This Car Around," the group hit the audience with a one-two punch of "I Won't Back Down" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance." The next five songs were directed at the diehards and included a new song ("Melinda"), an Animals cover ("I'm Crying"), a Traveling Wilburys tune ("Handle Me With Care"), and two tracks off of the underrated Wildflowers album, including the excellent title track.

Now, to finish strong. A semi-acoustic performance of "Learning to Fly" started a string of hits, including an energetic performance of "Don't Come Around Here No More," and a searing guitar solo on "Refugee" by Mike Campbell, one of the most underrated rock guitarists. The blistering anthem "Runnin' Down a Dream" ended the main set. After a short break, the group returned with the rocker "You Wreck Me" before playing Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," which was an obvious crowd favorite with the addictive chorus "everybody must get stoned." The band closed with "American Girl," which was their first hit back in 1976. Overall, it was your typical Petty show (entertaining) with an above-average set list.

Set list:

Listen to Her Heart
You Don't Know How It Feels
Free Fallin'
Turn This Car Around
I Won't Back Down
Mary Jane's Last Dance
I'm Crying [Animals cover]
Handle Me With Care [Wilburys song]
Crawling Back to You
Learning to Fly
Don't Come Around Here No More
Refugee Runnin'
Runnin' Down a Dream

You Wreck Me
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 [Bob Dylan cover]
American Girl

Send any questions, comments or wine stories to jpaulsen@bullz-eye.com





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