The crowd of well over 20,000 jumped to its feet with a thunderous cheer as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers walked out onto the Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s stage amid a welcoming volley of fog, smoke and explosive flashes.
Sporting a huge grin, Petty launched the Heartbreakers into a hard-hitting set chockfull of hits all the way from “Refugee” to “Free Falling.”
And, yes, Petty certainly does have an awful lot of hits to choose from. Who hasn’t turned on the radio in the last three and a half decades to hear at least one of his hook-filled songs in the mix on just about any rock station – from classic rock to adult contemporary rock programming?
Like Bruce Springsteen, Petty has been turning out popular, multi-platinum albums for over three decades. His music is well-crafted, rootsy rock loaded with plenty of catchy lyrics and memorable melodies.
The band’s latest SPAC appearance last Friday came hot on the heels of Petty’s new back-to-basics album, “Mojo,” which showcases a variety of American musical idioms from blues to garage rock. And he wasn’t shy about firing up a batch of the new nuggets in concert, either, with “Good Enough” emerging as the best of bunch.
As he did at his last SPAC appearance in 2006, he reached back for some cool-crushing covers, too, including the blues wail of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” and the quintessential Chuck Berry groove of “Carol.”
He didn’t skimp on the hits, however, and the Mike Campbell-led Heartbreakers marched through such catalog gems as the defiant “I Won’t Back Down,” the swirling psychedelia of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and the tumultuous “Breakdown” before finally bringing the evening to a crowd-pleasing end with the chiming pop masterpiece, “American Girl” for the final encore.
Legendary acoustic-guitar wielding ’60s veterans David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash opened with a retrospective of their vintage chart-topping tunes ranging from the peace ‘n’ love of “Woodstock” to the anti-war protest of “Military Madness.” Along the way, CS&N also paid homage to their sometime member Neil Young with “Long May You Run” and dipped into the Rolling Stones songbag for “Ruby Tuesday.”
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS SET LIST
Listen to Her Heart
You Don’t Know How It Feels
I Won’t Back Down
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac)
Mary Jane’s Last Dance
Carol (Chuck Berry)
Jefferson Jericho Blues
Running Man’s Bible
I Should Have Known It
Learning to Fly
Don’t Come Around Here No More
Runnin’ Down a Dream
CROSBY, STILLS & NASH SET LIST
Long Time Gone
Long May You Run
Ruby Tuesday (the Rolling Stones)
Almost Cut My Hair
Love the One You’re With
For What It’s Worth
Teach Your Children