Tom Petty Covers the Dead and Booker T at the Beacon, Offers Plenty of Wildflowers
Last night, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers hosted their second of five shows at New York’s Beacon Theatre. When Petty announced his Beacon shows—and a similar run of intimate Los Angeles dates—he promised deep cuts and rarities. Last night, he held true to his promise by digging up a mix greatest hits, cherished album tracks and electric covers.
Like every gig on his 2013 tour thus far, Petty opened the night with a cover of The Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” a seemingly self-referential message about opening up his own classic songbook, and the Full Moon Fever track “Love Is a Long Road.” Then, he drifted from his previous setlists and offered the sing-along “Here Comes My Girl” as well as his first-known take on the You’re Gonna Get It! number “When the Time Comes” since January 21, 1980. Petty also polled the crowd to see if anyone had attended Monday’s Beacon show and, replying to numerous cheers, promised a different selection of songs and other surprises.
One of those surprises included his first cover of the classic Booker T. & The MG’s instrumental “Green Onions” since October 29, 2011. The Heartbreakers first performed the organ workout during a extended run of shows at San Francisco’s The Fillmore in 1997 and have used the song to spotlight keyboardist Benmont Tench on select occasion during the past 16 years. From there, the group continued to work through their repertoire with a choice, bluesy versions of Southern Accents‘s “The Best Of Everything,” the loose, Muddy Waters cover “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and the ensemble’s first performance of the Hard Promises song “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” since August 9, 2003. They also busted out the forgotten The Last DJ number “When a Kid Goes Bad” for the first time since October 30, 2011.
After this year’s first version of the Highway Companion song “Saving Grace,” the Heartbreakers revisited Petty’s Traveling Wilburys days with “Tweeter and the Monkey Man.” Petty and Bob Dylan co-wrote the song in the ‘80s, and the tune has been a staple on the Heartbreakers’ 2013 tour. More than any other song last night, “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” summoned the spirit of the Beacon’s jamband regulars and gradually spiraled into a short, freeform jam. Last night, the tune also seemed to kick off a mini-segment of rootsy material that channeled Dylan’s poetic rambles. Those songs included tour staple “Rebels,” this year’s first take on the lovely, acoustic favorite “Wildflowers” and a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” (Petty revived the Dead cover for the first time since 1997 at Gulf Shores, AL’s The Hangout this past weekend.) After plugging back in, Petty and company offered another live rarity, the Wildflower tune “Crawling Back to You,” which he warned the crowd they “haven’t practiced, but whatever.”
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers returned to their standard 2013 setlist for their final stretch of songs: the Wildflowers song “It’s Good to Be King,” the Mojo jam “I Should Have Known It,” the classic “Refugee” and the show-stopping single “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” They returned for a two-punch hit-packed encore, consisting of “Listen to Her Heart” and “American Girl.” During his final batch of songs, Petty almost apologetically described his hits as “big jingles” and reminded the crowd that they are purposefully ending with “American Girl” so that they can “end at the beginning.”
Petty will return to the Beacon tomorrow.
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via Setlist.fm
Tuesday, May 22, Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
Love Is a Long Road
Here Comes My Girl
When the Time Comes
The Best Of Everything
I Just Want to Make Love to You
A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)
When a Kid Goes Bad
Tweeter and the Monkey Man
Friend of the Devil
Crawling Back to You
It’s Good to Be King
I Should Have Known It
Runnin’ Down a Dream
Listen to Her Heart