Petty breaks hearts at Blossom

Andrew Hampp

Heartbreakers host crowd-pleaser

Credit: Andrew Hampp

Credit: Andrew Hampp

Talk was cheap but a contact buzz was free when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played Cuyahoga Falls’ Blossom Music Center last Thursday.

After a stellar opening set from the recently reunited Black Crowes (which ended with lead singer Chris Robinson’s movie-star wife Kate Hudson blowing kisses at the crowd from the right-hand side of the stage), Petty and his band of nearly 30 years took the stage.

The Heartbreakers played a set heavy on hits and fan faves and low in chatter from Petty, who wasted no time in getting to his best-known songs from the ’90s. After opening with 1985’s “Listen To Her Heart,” Petty launched into 1994’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” during which several fans heeded his call to “roll another joint.”

But as the show went on, the energy level proved to be just as high as some of Petty’s fans. Both the pavilion and lawn appeared to be filled to capacity, which meant each and every song was met with thunderous applause.

For being the star of the evening, Petty kept relatively mum during between-song banter, opting to let his songs speak for themselves. When Petty did directly address his crowd, it was to introduce two new songs. One new track, the “Into the Great Wide Open”-esque foot-stomper “Turn This Car Around,” will be included on the band’s much-anticipated CD.

Other set highlights included “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Handle Me With Care,” a song from Petty’s stint with the ‘70s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys (featuring keyboardist Benmont Tench singing Roy Orbison’s verse) and “Breakdown,” from the Heartbreakers’ very first, self-titled album in 1976.

While Petty’s set was solid all-around with excellent singing and playing from all parties involved, there was also nothing particularly spectacular about it. Both singer and band seemed to be going through the motions, albeit very good motions.

The only thing that really kept the show interesting, despite the rote performances of time-honored fan faves, was the stage itself. Composed of various strips of movie screen upon which the band members were projected, the entire back wall of Blossom’s stage flashed in multiple, bright colors that fluctuated with the mood of each song. Seeing the lights in action was the only indication that Blossom’s show was anything more than an average gig.

Last Thursday will likely go down in Petty’s concert repertoire as yet another good gig, just not a great one.

Contact Pop Arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].