Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers / Steve Winwood at PNC Arena - 9/18/2014

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
with Steve Winwood
PNC Arena

I don't often go to large "arena rock" shows - I think the last one I saw actually held in a basketball stadium like this one was REM (with Lucious Jackson opening!) at the Dean Dome back in 1995 or 1996.  For some reason I felt it incumbent to see Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers while it was still possible though, high priced tickets and nosebleed seats be's not often you get a chance to see someone who has written as many hit songs as he has. 

After paying twenty dollars for parking, more than I almost ever pay to actually see a show, we got inside and found that our section had been closed off and they upgraded our seats to better ones downstairs - score!  You can more or less guess the set list, basically a lot of his hits (both from his solo and Heartbreakers records) along a number of with tracks from his new album "Hypnotic Eye."  The crowd sing-along for "Freefallin'" was pretty impressive, almost as impressive as the drunken dancing by the fratboys a couple rows in front of us...they were FEELING IT.  I knew it would be a sound good and be a professional performance, you don't stay on top like Petty has for this long if you're putting out a sub-par product - but I was impressed with just how good it actually was.  Even from the other end of the stadium where we were seated, it was engaging and exciting to watch the band perform; I was also surprised at how funny Petty was, his between song banter was pretty strong.  They played for about two hours, closing with probably their best song "American Girl."  It was money well spent. 

It's definitely worth mentioning the opener, since it was the rock legend Steve Winwood.  Yeah he played his eighties hit "Higher Love" and it sounded fine, but the highlight was the retrospective of songs from some of the different groups he has been a part of over his career  - Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," an number of Traffic jams, and a couple of Spencer Davis Group songs including the ender of "Gimme Some Lovin'," one of the best parts of the entire night. 

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