Two weeks ago tonight brought an opportunity that I was so excited to jump on the moment I heard about it a few days before the ticket on-sale date a few months back: seeing the legendary Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the intimate Fonda Theater on Hollywood Blvd. Tuesday was the second of six sold-out shows for Petty and crew, just a couple weeks after knocking out five sold-out gigs at New York’s Beacon Theater.
Suffice it to say, the show didn’t disappoint, as Petty and his venerable band mates crushed a 22-song set that featured a number of familiar classics, some powerful deep album cuts and a few enjoyable covers thrown in for good measure.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Fonda Theater, Hollywood, June 4, 2013
- So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star: A nice emotional start, what with this being the band’s leadoff song the very first time I saw them back in the mid-80s. Plus, the Byrds’ cover always has a special resonance in L.A.
- Love Is A Long Road: A solid, well-worn rocker from “Full Moon Fever,” I’ve always felt this song was one that didn’t perhaps receive all the credit it deserves. A rocking version here tonight.
- Here Comes My Girl: Special. Its first appearance in the setlist on this tour, I believe. One of my all-time favorite Petty songs and it holds some amazing memories. Great to share it on this night.
- Baby Please Don’t Go: The great blues classic from Big Joe Williams, played in the vein of the song’s most famous rock version, by Van Morrison and Them. The Heartbreakers — and especially Mike Campbell — really got to stretch it out on this one. Perfect.
- When A Kid Goes Bad: A deep cut from “The Last DJ” (2002), this is such a great sample of the funky, bluesy side of the band.
- The Best Of Everything: I’m pretty much always up for anything from the “Southern Accents” record, and this one was fantastic on this night. A kind wish to a lost lover wrapped inside a “what might have been” story, it’s a perfect example of the Petty and the Heartbreakers’ style of balladry.
- I Just Want To Make Love To You: More bluesy goodness in this excellent cover of the Muddy Waters classic.
- A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me): It’s interesting that this song shows up in the same setlist as “Love Is A Long Road.” They both fit in that same “underrated rocker” category among Petty’s catalog. People really love the Heartbreakers’ trademark “jangle” — and rightfully so — but the band knows how to play with a damn edge too.
- Kings Highway: Another big highlight for me. From “Into The Great Wide Open,” this song has long spoken directly to me thanks to where I was as a person when it first entered my consciousness. And now, after a long ride, where it feels I may have (in recent years) finally turned on to this tune’s title road, it’s even a bit more enjoyable.
- I’d Like To Love You Baby: The band is in love with J.J. Cale covers on this tour, and this one — though a bit down for where it fell in the flow of the show — was another opportunity for the band to show off its musicianship.
- Tweeter And The Monkey Man: One of the deeper cuts on the first Traveling Wilburys album, this has always been a personal favorite. Penned by Bob Dylan, with a great deal of assistance by Petty, the song is really an homage to the lyrical stylings of Bruce Springsteen. On this night, the real showcase here was Campbell and Petty trading licks on one of the dozens of guitars used during the show — really mesmerizing work by both.
- Rebels: Another “Southern Accents” favorite, this acoustic version really plays up the power of the lyrics. Fantastic.
- Two Gunslingers: Continuing the acoustic break, this cut from “Into The Great Wide Open,” while not overly well known, is a Petty favorite and fit well right here.
- Time To Move On: The first of two cuts tonight from my favorite Petty record, “Wildflowers.” This song has meant so many different things over the years, depending on my station in life. Tonight’s gorgeous version pointed that out rather well.
- Friend Of The Devil: I’m not quite sure how many bands I’ve seen cover this song, but tonight’s version was right up there among the best. I’m not the world’s biggest Dead fan, but this one has always been a favorite of sorts. The Heartbreakers are very familiar with it, and this version showed off their comfort level.
- It’s Good To Be King: There’s not really a better way to describe this performance than the Tweet I sent an old friend on the night of the show: Perfect Song? Yes.
- I Should Have Known It: This cut from the band’s most recent studio album, “Mojo,” rocked just right in this transitional spot. Underrated track, great placement in the setlist.
- Refugee: Singalong? Ok. Singalong!
- Runnin’ Down A Dream: The crowd certainly jumped right on into this one as well. For me, it’s been a bit of an up-and-down run for this song, which at times gets a little worn out. But it was hard to argue with it on this night.
- Listen To Her Heart: Right up there with “Here Comes My Girl” earlier in the setlist. It was a special treat to hear this personal favorite dropped — from among many legendary options — into this crucial encore kickoff spot.
- Carol: The Heartbreakers love this classic Chuck Berry rocker and its playfulness fit right in tonight.
- American Girl: “We’ll finish up … where we started out.” Oh yeah! All right! Here’s the iPhone video I shot of the performance: American Girl — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (live)
Follow this link to a Spotify playlist I created from live and studio cuts of the evening’s setlist here: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Fonda Theater 6/4/13 Setlist