Reviews of Tom Petty Shows Past

Wednesday, June 7, 2006; 4:44 PM

Tom Petty is now in his fourth decade of being a summer staple. The Post has devoted plenty of ink to covering his shows, and with rumors swirling that this may be the last time he mounts a big summer tour, here is a look back at reviews of Petty's area shows over the past 25 years.


July 19, 1978
Tom Petty is not a punk. Monday night at the Warner Theater, Petty and his Heartbreakers put on a solid rock 'n' roll show that was ultimately worth every penny of the $1.01 that radio station DC-101 charged to see them.

Petty was swept into the "New Wave" surf when it first crashed onto the music press. Later, he was practially dismissed as tame. Now that punk music has lost some of its hype, Petty is starting to emerge as a reasonable compromise between "New Wave" and commercial pop.

The Heartbreakers do have limitations, and they were evident Monday night. All their tempos are variations on "2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate." Lead guitarist Mike Campbell was steady enough in support, but he recycled the same notes song after song.

Despite the group's debt to British bands such as the Searchers and the Animals, the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is straight contemporary rock 'n' roll.The songs were simple, but they usually worked.

Mark Kernis
The Washington Post


June 23, 1980
Tom Petty is a shameless imitator who borrows '60s musical styles with carefree abandon. Tom Petty is a slick showman who milks the crown for all it is worth. Tom Petty is a singer/guitarist with little or no redeeming social values.

Tom Petty is also quite awesome.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night was, without question, the most stunning rock show to play Washington so far this year. The two-hour performance left both the group and the overflow crowd exhausted. And after three encores, the house lights were brought up to calm things down. No one wanted to leave.

Tom Petty has taken the best of the clinches - raunchy Rolling Stones chords, Byrd harmonies and Dylanesque lyric touches -- and fused them with a daring New Wave approach, producing a sound that is at once old and new. Branishing their instruments like sabers, Petty and the Heartbreakers stormed through the music with an energy and sense of raucous excitment that was as much an assault as a musical performance. Whether playing a slow R&B ballad or one of their hits like "Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee," the group lashed out with a carefully controlled fury that was irrestible.

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