Last winter, after watching the excellent 2007 documentary Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream on Netflix, I decided it was finally time to see Tom Petty in concert; somehow, I’d managed to stupidly “avoid it” for decades.
So, as soon has the band’s 2017 tour dates were announced, I “obtained” tickets to their July 1 show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It was billed as a 40th-anniversary, career-spanning tour, so the timing seemed perfect.
While I honestly didn’t dig the whole jam-band vibe (the 13-minute performance of “It’s Good to Be King” was about 6.75 minutes too long—and you can apply that same formula to all the night’s extended jams—and there were many), it was a fine concert, full of fine playing on fine-looking guitar after fine-looking guitar.
Maybe they could’ve played more of the late-Seventies Damn the Torpedos-era stuff, but that’s nitpicking. After all, Petty was never one to reminisce; he was always looking ahead, or at least caring about the now, which is probably why the band seemed most “into it” while performing “Forgotten Man,” a track from their most recent album, 2014’s Hypnotic Eye.
Anyway, that tour—which Petty announced was going to be his last major trek (so that he could spend time with family, especially his granddaughter)—finally wound down late last month on the West Coast, not far from his home. In fact, their final performance took place Monday, September 25, at LA’s legendary Hollywood Bowl, the same stage where Petty’s Wilburys bandmate, the late George Harrison, made history in 1964 and 1965 with his “other” band.
Below, you can check out a few performances from that fateful night, including “Free Fallin'” and the night’s actual final songs, the mega-kickass “You Wreck Me” and “American Girl.”
“American Girl” was a fitting, albeit unintentional, farewell; it was, after all, the song that represented the first taste of Petty and the Heartbreakers—at least for a large segment of the population. Enjoy the two clips below; to hear the entire set from that night, step right this way. Farewell, Tom Petty.