We’re so happy to be here with you tonight,” Petty enthused. “We’re playing tonight like it’s one big record and we’ll just drop the needle wherever.”
Despite the polish of of some of their recorded efforts, onstage, at it’s very core, this is a good ol’, slightly psychedelic, garage rock n’ roll band. Live, it’s a sound that’s informed as much by Nuggets era bands (The Seeds, Blues Magoos, Electric Prunes), as by some of the more obvious influences ( Dylan, Byrds, Stones). And tonight was akin to seeing one of the finest garage bands ever.
Monday night was the first of 2 sold out shows at Red Rocks, a part of the band’s 40th Anniversary Tour. The evening started with a nod to the first album and it’s opener Rockin Around (With You), then Mary Jane’s Last Dance, You Don’t Know How It Feels, Forgotten Man from Hypnotic Eye dedicated to US veterans, followed by You Got Lucky, a short song from Long After Dark, stretched out to a 7 minute jam.
While it was billed as celebrating 40 years with the Heartbreakers, almost half the show highlighted songs from Petty’s solo albums, 5 coming from Wildflowers. To be honest though, most were solo albums in name only. The album credits always featured a number of Heartbreakers.
After, I Should Have Known It, an album track from Mojo, the band started the sprint to the finish line, Refugee, Runnin’ Down A Dream, then the encores of You Wreck Me and American Girl. Sorry, no Breakdown this time around.
Petty has said this could be the last go around on the national circut which is either true or a shrewed marketing scheme to move tickets. If it’s the former, that would be a shame. The Heartbreakers have soundtracked decades with one of the more beloved catalogs of American music this side of Springsteen. They are a band that after years of playing together, feed off each other, as opposed to going through the motions. They can adroitly drop into an easy groove or summon the muscle the earlier songs demand. But if it’s true, then maybe they might go the route of say, the Allmans and settle in for residencies around the country. 5 nights on the Rocks sounds nice…