My wife and I honeymooned in St. Louis twenty years ago, and we ended up back there for our twentieth anniversary. It was great timing because not only were we going to see the Cubs play the Cardinals (Cardinals win 5-3), but we also had tickets to see rock legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Joe Walsh. Tom Petty has been high on my wife’s bucket list for years. She’s also a big fan of the Eagles, so the addition of Joe Walsh was a win-win.
Mr. Walsh came out with nine people in his band behind him, including four back-up singers and two drummers. He quickly got to work with “Meadows” and then dialed up “Ordinary Average Guy.” You could tell he was having fun by then. He threw down “The Bomber” by the James Gang (“Was part of that from Bolero?” My wife asked. Answer: “Yes.”) and made my wife cry when he played “Take It to the Limit” and dedicated it to Glenn Frey. “In the City” hits harder live than you expect it will, and people went nuts for “Life’s Been Good.”
I was yelling “Golden throat!” by this point, and sure enough he ended with “Rocky Mountain Way.” It’s easy to forget how good a guitarist Walsh is. He can still shred and the golden throat effects on this track are still fun after all these years.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers started their set with the first song off their first album – “Rockin’ Around (with You).” They unleashed “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” next and played it so well and with such fervor that it could’ve been the encore. “I could go home right now,” my wife said as we sat there with our mouths hanging open in stunned appreciation.
They tore through many of their biggest hits, including “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Freefallin'” (a big crowd favorite). Two surprises were “It’s Good to Be King” and the lovely, acoustic “Wildflowers.”
“Refugee” slayed the place, and the band was firing on all cylinders by this point. “Runnin’ Down a Dream” was almost a full-on psychedelic mind trip with its accompanying visuals.
There was a nice salute to hometown hero Chuck Berry when they played “Carol,” and they ended, no surprise, with “American Girl,” which had everyone jumping. It was a great end to a wonderful set. It’s hard to believe Petty and his band are on a 40th anniversary tour, because many of his songs still sound so fresh.
Keep your mind open.
[Don’t be a refugee from updates. Subscribe today!]