Updated: Aug 22
Six years ago today I photographed Tom Petty in NorCal for the last time...
It was August 22, 2017 that I covered this Northern California Petty performance for the last time. TP is hands down one of my favorite artists and will forever be missed by me and many other music lovers around the globe. This was their 40th anniversary tour and the show was unforgettable. Six short weeks later he was gone. The following is the blog post and gallery from that very show. As I say in every issue of The Music Soup, life is short, be kind, hug often, and love each other whilst we have time here - in this lifetime. One never knows when we will see our last gig. Thank you TP for leaving us your rich legacy of music. ❤️
The ultimate Mr. Cool, Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers play The Greek Theatre on a perfect summers night in his 40th year of touring as TP and the Heartbreakers. Opening for Petty was the up and coming rock band, The Shelters from LA.. The Shelters opened the show at 7, and they played for just under an hour. A young band that Tom Petty himself heard a few years ago and believed in them enough to, co produce their album, hand them the keys to his studio, all his gear and gentle guided them to where they are now....playing large venues and opening shows for acts like himself, as well as Gary Clarke Jr, The Kooks, Atlas Genius and The Wild Feathers. They played a great set on one of the stages at Bottle Rock Napa in May of this year. And they are playing San Francisco at The Independent at the end of August on the 30th. So if you liked them at BottleRock or opening for this show, I suggest checking out their Independent show where you can catch an entire gig with The Shelters.
Scheduled to play three nights at The Greek, this was the first of the three. The second scheduled night had to be postponed due to laryngitis. He has re scheduled his August 23 performance to be played instead on Monday the 28th, and the show originally scheduled for the 27th for the 29th.
Celebrating their 40th year of spreading their brand of music around the globe Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers gave the sold out audience at The Greek quite a night! At 8.20 that evening Mr Petty and his Heartbreakers walked on stage and the crowd stood in excitement to see my idea of the epitome of cool. Starting the evening with the opening track of the debut album from 1976, 'Rockin Around (With You)', and then went right into 'Mary Janes Last Dance'. Just gorgeous. The Heartbreakers are a tight knit family for sure. They're made up of a group who have mostly been together for many years. Some have had a break somewhere in between and a couple members have been with Petty since the beginning in 1975. Mike Campbell is one of them, who have been with him since 1975, and it shows. Petty and Campbell have a camaraderie more like brothers. Their playing is so tightly in sync with each other. Its a beautiful thing to witness. And then theres Steve Ferrone, "the new guy," he's only been a heartbreaker for 24 years, a solid Drummer and has been with the Heartbreakers since Stan Lynch left in 1994. Ferrone doesn't miss a beat. Truly a backbone in the Heartbreakers., as is Campbell. The other members of the Heartbreakers include, Benmont Tench on keyboards, another band member since the beginning in 1975. Ron Blair on bass, and Scott Thurston as a multi-instrumentalist, mostly rhythm guitar and second keyboards. They also had a new sister team from the UK in the band, the Webb sisters, Charley and Mattie, on backing vocals. All in all, TP and the band are always great, fairly predictable, but never a disappointment. The first time I saw them was in 1987 in England at The Wembley Arena, opening for Bob Dylan. Petty and the Heartbreakers were amazing, wish I could say the same about Dylans' performance that night. Bob Dylan was in his Jesus stage, and had a very pompous attitude that tour, unrelated to the religion but either way, was not a good performance for Dylan. For me an artist with a bad attitude, can sour the performance and the music. I haven't seen him again.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played for a full two hours in Berkeley, and they went through 25 songs, most all were classics. Including, 'I Won't Back Down', 'You Don't Know How It Feels', 'Free Falling', 'Wildflowers', 'Yer So Bad', 'Running Down a Dream', 'Refugee' and ending with the encore, 'American Girl'. You know the audience is having fun when they are standing, and dancing for much of the two hours. Throughout his set, the 66 year old Petty, chatted, and thanked the audience, as he always does, several times throughout the show. And at times, he seems like a satire of himself, he's so Petty! However, he's definitley one of the performers that are loving what they do, and love the masses of adoring fans who put him there, and keep him there. If you haven't seen TP live, he's always worth it. Its always a solid show with tunes everyone knows. And then theres the epic documentary, "Running Down a Dream," a film about the Tom Petty story. If you are simply a music buff or a Petty fan...its a must see. Great film! It shows how he's truly one of the good guys in the music biz. The film shows him in a beautiful generous and genuine light. Any way you slice it...Tom Petty is an artist that I have oodles of respect for, because he is so cool, humble, and he seems to exude a sincere appreciation for the people who buy his music and keep him touring. If Tom Petty is what a 66 year old rockstar is like...well then, he makes aging look easy!
© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2017