Tom Petty Kicks Off Beacon Run with Debut Covers, Album Cuts
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers kicked off their five-night run at New York City’s Beacon Theatre last night. The band promised to use the stretch of shows to dig deep into their catalog and stuck to their word, favoring a series of choice covers and a good bit of album cuts over their greatest hits.
Petty and the Heartbreakers came out the gate strong with a powerful cover of The Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” that set the tone for night. It was also an appropriate way to start the run, which will celebrate the career of a genuine rock ‘n’ roll star. Early in the set, Petty told the crowd that, while he planned to shake up the setlist with some album cuts, he also wanted to play a song that everyone could sing along to so he could “get it that out the way.” The band then went into Petty’s 1989 solo hit “I Won’t Back Down.”
After the standard “I Won’t Back Down,” the band once again found their groove on “Cabin Down Below,” as well as a surprising cover of “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone.” While it was the group’s first time playing the tune, they still managed to give the Monkees classic a serious rock edge that fit in perfectly with the overall feel of the night.
The next big highlight of the evening was the band’s take on the Traveling Wilbury’s “Tweeter and the Monkey Man.” Petty introduced the track, which he co-wrote with Bob Dylan, by noting that it was quite intimidating to be paired in a songwriting duo with the legend. The group’s take on the song was so polished its hard to believe they performed it live for the first time less than week ago (at their tour opener in Evansville, IL).
The last stretch of the set got going with a debut cover of the Little Feat classic “Willin’,” which seemed like exactly the kind of low-key song that the Heartbreakers were meant to play. Petty’s eyes scanned the crowd in front of him, and the signer appeared to crack a smile every time “and if you give me weed, whites and wine” rolled off his tongue.
Yet it was the next song that really stole the show. While Mike Campbell had spent the night showing off his guitar chops pretty much from the start, “Melinda” was Benmont Trench’s turn to prove himself a master of his craft. The keyboardist stretched the tune’s piano solo segment into an extended jam that dabbled in a multitude of styles from classical and jazz to funk and straight rock ‘n’ roll, all while Steve Ferrone kept the beat going smoothly. The band and crowd alike watched in awe as Trench kept going and going before the rest of the players came back into the fold with perfect timing.
The set wrapped up with heavy-hitting takes on “I Should Have Known It,” “Refugee” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” The band returned for an encore, which kept the hard rock vibe going with “You Wreck Me” before taking a more playful turn with a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Carol.” Not content to finish the show on that note, Petty and The Heartbreakers played the crowd off with perhaps their biggest hit, “American Girl.” While the tune was certainly a crowd pleaser, it almost seemed dull following the stretch of guitar-laden rock songs that ended the set before the encore break. Nevertheless, it was a fitting way to end a solid show from one of the most professional touring acts out there.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will continue their Beacon Theatre run tonight. The band will also headline this year’s Bonnaroo next month. Last night’s setlist can be found below.
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via setlist.fm
Monday, May 20, 2013, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
1. So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star (The Byrds cover)
2. Love Is a Long Road
3. I Won’t Back Down
4. Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)
5. Cabin Down Below
6. Good Enough
7. I’m Not Your Stepping Stone
8. A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)
9. Billy The Kid
10. Tweeter and the Monkey Man (Traveling Wilburys cover)
12. To Find A Friend
13. Angel Dream
14. Willin’ (Little Feat cover)
16. I Should Have Known It
18. Runnin’ Down a Dream
19. You Wreck Me
20. Carol (Chuck Berry cover)
21. American Girl