Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Concert Review (Tampa)

Tom Petty teenager46 years ago, Tom Petty was sitting in class at Gainesville High School in Florida dreaming about becoming a rock star and touring the world.    This past weekend, Tom came back to the Sunshine State for two special concerts in West Palm Beach and Tampa.    Midway through the Tampa show, Tom introduced the legendary Heartbreakers.  When he got to lead guitarist, Mike Campbell, Petty shared a hometown story about their early days in Gainesville while they were part of Mudcrutch.   Even after almost four decades of touring, you could feel Tom feels something truly special about playing in Florida.  A packed house in Tampa on Saturday night (Sept 20th) at the newly named Amalie Arena, (previously The Ice Palace and Tampa Bay Times Forum) witnessed rock and roll royalty first-hand.



Steve Winwood Tampa 2014Opening act, Steve Winwood, with a band featuring two drummers, played his hits spanning multiple bands (Traffic, Blind Faith, and The Spencer Davis Group) along with only ONE hit from the 80’s, “Higher Love”.     Their rock-fusion jazz solos were tight as they focused on Steve’s earlier hits.   No “While You See A Chance” or “Back In The High Life”, but Winwood injected some incredible guitar magic on songs like Traffic’s “Dear Mr Fantasy”.    His band concluded with the 60’s party anthem, “Gimme Some Lovin” powered by an incredible vintage keyboard solo.

Tom Petty Tampa Amalie ArenaWith an amazing catalog of four decades of huge hits, fan favorites, and a brand new CD, Tom Petty had to make some hard choices on what songs would make on the final setlist.    The almost two hour set included some mandatory choices like “Refugee”, “Last Dance With Mary Jane”, and “I Won’t Back Down”.    But Petty added some new twists to some of the classics.   “Rebels” became an soft acoustic county-twinged love song dedicated to growing up in the South.   Tom took on a grumpy Clint Eastwood attitude when he offered up a exciting but snarly performance of “Don’t Come Around Here No More”.    Mike Campbell got a spotlight moment with an extended guitar solo during “Running Down A Dream”.

“FREE FALLIN'” Tampa 2014

Tom Petty Tampa 2014Most bands of the stature of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers simply rely on their big hits, but the band introduced three songs from their brand new CD, “Hypnotic Eye”.   Easily the band’s strongest album in a decade, the aggressive rockers “American Dream Plan B” and “Forgotten Man” fit in perfectly with Petty’s greatest hits tonight.    Fan favorites?  The crowd reaction to “Free Fallin” and “Learning To Fly” had the arena at maximum volume as everyone was enthusiastically loving the sing a-long.    The concert’s ultimate high point?  Opening with a exquisite  keyboard solo by Benmont Tench, the Heartbreakers ripped into a passionate performance of the 80’s chestnut “A Woman In Love” with a soaring guitar solo by Campbell and Tom’s signature vocals.   As the show closed with a high energy version of  “American Girl”, Tom at the age of 64, proved why the Heartbreakers can still sell out arenas today.

“A WOMAN IN LOVE” (Chicago 2014)


So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star

Last Dance With Mary Jane

American Dream Plan B

Into The Great Wide Open

Forgotten Man

I Won’t Back Down

Free Fallin’

A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)

U Get Me High


Yer So Bad

Learning To Fly

Shadow People

I Should Have Known It


Runnin’ Down A Dream


Don’t Come Around Here No More

You Wreck Me

American Girl