Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the 1stBank Center, 4/19/12 (photos and review) - Reverb

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the 1stBank Center, 4/19/12 (photos and review)

“I don’t know when I’ve had so much fun,” Tom Petty yelled to the roar of the crowd at the 1stBank Center Thursday night before launching into his encore.

There’s something timeless about Petty’s music. The man himself is seemingly ageless; his voice has avoided the deepening pitfalls of most other singers, his face looks hardly different than it did in the mid-’80s, and his songs seem to have universal appeal. Many in the audience at the second of a two-night tour-opening run had not been born when Petty’s first hit, “American Girl,” was released in 1976, yet almost all knew the lyrics and sang along to that tune, plus many more in his extensive catalog.

On a stage draped with red curtains that leant a somewhat intimate feel to the confines of the 1stBank Center, Petty and his Heartbreakers commanded the stage from the first song, a rocking “Listen to Her Heart.” The Heartbreakers took off on the second number of the night, a fiery “You Wreck Me,” as guitarist Mike Campbell tore into the solo with abandon.

Petty told the audience he was going to try to dig into some of his lesser-known back catalog. Though “Handle With Care” — a Traveling Wilburys tune that had Scott Thurston singing the Roy Orbison part — probably was more hit than rarity, the introspective “The Best of Everything,” which Petty dedicated to drummer Levon Helm of the Band, who died earlier Thursday, probably was one tune only the die-hard fans knew. Petty also introduced “Have Love Will Travel,” as one of the favorite songs he’s ever written.

Petty has been in the news lately for the theft of some rare guitars. The thief has been caught, and the band got the instruments back, but Petty made a wry reference to the episode during “Spike,” calling out the characters in the shady bar as “guitar thieves.”

There was plenty of room for audience sing-alongs, especially on “Free Fallin'” and acoustic-oriented versions of “Learning to Fly” and “Yer So Bad.” The band itself got to stretch out on a jam-band worthy take on J.J. Cale’s “Travelin’ Light,” while Petty exhorted the crowd and band to “do some headbanging” before a raucous “I Should Have Known It,” and stated he was playing “Good Enough” by audience request, though since he played it the first night as well, it’s hard to know if that was a genuine sentiment.

On the set-closing “Running Down a Dream,” Petty and Campbell turned in the jangly Rickenbacker guitars for hard-rocking Gibson Explorers (see James Hetfield, et al.) and worked the crowd and stage like the veteran pros they are. The posturing during the final guitar crescendo was eaten up by the crowd, and would have seemed cheesy if the two hadn’t clearly been having so much fun rocking like it was the mid-’70s.

Regina Spektor opened the show, and though her song volume seemed a little low for such a large venue, “Fidelity” sounded as good as ever.

Set list

Listen to Her Heart, You Wreck Me, I Won’t Back Down, Here Comes My Girl, Handle With Care, The Best of Everything, Something Big, Have Love Will Travel, Free Fallin’, Spike, Travelin’ Light, Time to Move On, Learning to Fly, Yer So Bad, I Should Have Known It, Good Enough, Refugee, Running Down a Dream, E: Mary Jane’s Last Dance, American Girl

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work here.

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  • PowderBud

    Wow, that’s the entire set list?  Nothing off Mojo? Glad I wasn’t there.  Sounds like mostly rehashing worn out stuff from a 25 year old album (Learning to Fly).  I know that album was popuar but geez, he’s put out much better stuff before and since.  I wish that album would get buried, I’ve never liked it but  know I’m in the minorty on that one.  I saw them on the last tour that started at Red Rocks. They played a few songs off the Mojo disc which was released right around the day of that show.  Those songs were best of the show, and the CD is one of the best he’s ever put out…in my opinion.  I guess people do hate change though as so many of his fans just want to hear the same, tired old tunes over and over again. I hope he dumps some of that old stuff soon though.  Wldflower and Mojo can easily stand on thier own with anything Petty and the band have put out.

    • TPFan

       Glad you weren’t there … rest of us had a great time!

    • Dianrex

      “I should have known it” and “good enough” are both from Mojo. The show was superb..Petty had a lot of fun as did his audience. Rock n Roll!! “traveling light” rocked the house!

  • TroubleDog

    Love Tom Petty and have seen him on every pass through CO in the past 15 years, but I passed this time. Between the price of tickets and the fact that he doesn’t mix up his set list more, I resisted the urge this time. The guy is a rock God, and the Heartbreakers–Mike Campbell in particular–are superb, but he needs to do a tour without playing Breakdown, American Girl, Free Fallin’, Don’t Come Around Here and Mary Jane’s Last Dance. The guy has a back catalogue that would be the envy of most artists; God forbid he play a different set every night. He certainly has enough “hits” to keep everyone happy. Mix it up, Tom, please, and I’ll be back for future shows…

    • Stozhose

      I hear ya dude but you had to be bummed about not seeing night one, that is the set list I want nightly. Love the rarities, need to get even the losers and the waiting back rotation.