Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at Wells Fargo Center

Fans packed the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, July 29th to see rock legends, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, take them on a trip down memory lane. The performance marked the band’s second trip to Philly and the Wells Fargo Center this month after a successful first show on July 1st.

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This is Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 40th anniversary tour. Soak that in for a minute. Think of all the bands you’ve loved over your lifetime that were One Hit Wonders or who faded into obscurity after a handful of albums and hits. Forty years is a remarkable feat of staying power in the music industry and requires a symbiotic relationship of love between a band and their fans. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers have achieved what so many bands have tried in vain to do: stay relevant year after year, decade after decade.

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The show opened with a performance from another life long member of the music family, Peter Wolf. Older readers will remember Wolf’s work as the frontman for the ‘J. Geils Band’ from 1967-1983 (is ‘Freeze Frame playing in your mind yet?). Younger readers might know Wolf’s work as a solo artist that has spanned the past 33 years. His solo career has seen him collaborate with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, and Neko Case, and has spawned eight studio albums and a slew of hits and awards.

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Wolf opened with ‘Thick As Thieves’ off of his 1984 album ‘Come As You Are’ before quickly moving into an Otis Rush cover of ‘Homework’ to the delight of the crowd. His thirteen song set included many solo songs, a few J. Geils Band selections, and ended with another cover, ‘Lookin’ For a Love’ by the Valentinos.

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Wolf, a legend in his own right, was the perfect opening act to set the tone for the night, and with everyone’s appetite wet, it was time for the main course.  We’ve loved Tom Petty from the moment we first laid ears on him. His solo work, endless hits with the Heartbreakers, and magical collaborations as part of the Travelling Wilburys have all given us great joy and timeless songs that stand the test of time. Petty exudes a level of cool that can evoke jealousy in men of any age.

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After a short intermission, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers took the stage, opening with ‘Rockin’ Around (With You)’, the lead track off of their debut self-titled album (1976). For a 40th anniversary tour, what better place to begin than at the beginning?

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The band then fast forwarded to the mid-1990’s, dropping their hit ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ followed by the hit,  ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ off of Petty’s 1994 solo album, ‘Wallflowers’.

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The rest of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ seventeen-song set consisted of many more of the band’s and Petty’s solo hits including, ‘Into The Great Wide Open’, ‘I Won’t Back Down’, ‘Free Fallin”, ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’, ‘Learning To Fly’, ‘Refugee’, and ended on ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’. Petty seemed to really soak in the energy of the 40th-anniversary crowd, who excitedly sang along to every one of the tunes.

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After leaving the stage, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers returned for a two-song encore of ‘You Wreck Me’ and ‘All American Girl’ that the audience gobbled up like the last tasty morsels of a mouthwatering musical meal. It was an awe-inspiring night of music from both acts and if you have the chance to catch the tour in your city, do it. Your opportunity to catch these guys won’t last forever.

[Photos by: Rick Pettine]

[Article by David Miller]

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