Tom Petty’s first live appearances on these shores for many years means it is time for me to confess something.
Petty’s double live album Pack Up The Plantation – Live! was the first album I ever took back to the shop because I didn’t like it.
Scandalous isn’t it? But in my defence, I read a review, and bought the record without having heard it. I played it once, thought “That’s not for me” and concocted a story about the vinyl being scratched or warped (it wasn’t). Our Price duly obliged. £7.99 refunded to spend on Asia’s Astra or something. I didn’t mention the album return tonight. Didn’t want to cast a cloud over the evening…
Nevertheless, I knew that Petty was One Of Us, and kept an ear to the ground. Sure enough, in 1989, fresh from being a Travelling Wilbury, Petty recorded a solo album, Full Moon Fever, scored a couple of hits with Won’t Back Down and Free Fallin’ and cropped up on the Silence of the Lambs soundtrack with American Girl.
Petty was recently subject to one of the best music documentaries out there: Runnin’ Down A Dream, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. It tells the rags to riches story of a group of hopeful Floridians who move to LA to make it big – and succeed! It also tells of initial US apathy, breaking the UK, an eventual rise in fortunes, a fight with the record company, (Petty objected to his record company changing ownership – which was resolved through his declaring himself bankrupt) subsequent hits, a split, and eventual canonisation with Dylan, Harrison and Orbison in The Travelling Wilburys. Just an everyday tale then.
The documentary is highly recommended, albeit quite long at four hours. All I can say is that it didn’t seem to go on as long as the last Lord of the Rings film did…
But on to yesterday’s line up at The Isle of Wight Festival.
Noah and The Whale were good: a great festival band to see in the sun, sun, sun.
Example was the quasi-headliner for the kids. He likes to bounce, bounce, bounce does Example. Like Tigger. His fans are probably fans of Tigger too, judging by their age, all bouncing down the front in enormous coordinated moshing circles. It was a bit like playing Simon Says at times with hand actions and endless bouncing…
Elbow turned up the class-o-meter. Guy Garvey picked up a guitar. “I haven’t played guitar onstage for years so I will F- this up” he grinned, plucking it like a bass. “Isle of Wight Festival is a bit of a mouthful. Can I call you Issy?”
Garvey is a great frontman and boasts a gorgeous voice live, a fact all the more remarkable given he looks like my postman on one of his more scruffy days. Elbow played a beautiful set and for many stole the show.
But Tom Petty was not to be upstaged. Playing crowd pleasing hits like Free Fallin’ and Refugee, deeper cuts, new songs from Mojo, a couple of covers (an amazingly good cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well) and even The Wilbury’s Handle With Care, he showed firstly how many great songs he has written, but also what a great, great band the Heartbreakers are.
Live, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are amazing. It has been a long time since the UK got to see them – let’s hope it won’t be another twenty years until the next visit…
Record #60: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – American Girl