Tom Petty gets the crowd singing with all of his hits

Ken Simmons
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Gospel band, Blind Boys of Alabama treats audience

Tom Petty is a storyteller. After his Newfoundland weekend — two nights at St. John’s Mile One Centre — he probably has a few more tales to tell.

Some struggled to justify the price of admission when the Heartbreakers show was announced, with tickets between $80 and $170, but you can’t argue with success, and these shows, two of only three Canadian dates on Petty’s current tour, packed them in to the rafters. None appeared to be regretting the expense.

Promoter Dave Carver told the crowd Saturday night they were in for a treat with the opening act, and he did not lie. Although not to everyone’s taste, gospel kings the Blind Boys of Alabama brought the salvation, with a tight band and heavenly harmonies.

How does the Marc Cohn song go?

“‘Tell me are you a Christian child?’

And I said ‘Ma’am I am tonight’”

Yeah, it was a bit like that.

An uplifting beginning with a rousing end, and the lights came up for the crew to clear the stage. As they went down, the crowd went to its feet.

Petty opened with “Listen to Your Heart,” he and “co-captain” Mike Campbell leaning on the trademark Rickenbackers to pull out the signature jangle.

Petty squinting; lights too bright? They launched into “You Wreck Me,” and by “I Won’t Back Down,” the voices of the gathered thousands filled the stadium, singing along. Uninvited, but Petty did not seem to mind.

In fact, if anything, he looked to be charmed by the rousing welcome, tickled by the singing, the enthusiasm, the deafening appreciation he was given from fans new and old. The age range was not lost on Petty. “Here’s one we wrote in 1981,” he said, answering the resultant cheer with, “Yeah, that was a good year for me, too.”

To one youngster up front, he added with a laugh, “You weren’t even here then.”

By then they were into it, Petty carving a weaving dance around the stage, waving and laughing. Campbell swapping a guitar per song or two; just the right sound from lightening breaks, bent strings, crying slide. Bringing the crowd up then settling them back.

The band saved the heaviest tunes for the end, pounding out a heavy jam in “Good Enough,” which lead into “Refugee,” ending the set with “Running Down a Dream.”

The Heartbreakers lingered on stage after that, soaking in a reaction the old band may not have heard in some time. And they milked it, running a full five minutes of stomping, hooting ovation before climbing back in the saddle for a two-song capper.

Between them, Petty leaned into the mike and said, “I got a feeling this is not our last trip to St. John’s.”

After this weekend, he’s not the only one thinking that way.

Twitter @Ken_Simmons_NL/Tumblr

Set List

Blind Boys of Alabama

“People Get Ready”

“Spirit In The Sky”

“Down In The Hole”

“There Will Be A Light”

“Free At Last”

“Amazing Grace” (to the tune of “House Of The Rising Sun”

“Look Where He Brought Me From”


Tom Petty

and the Heartbreakers

“Listen To Her Heart”

“You Wreck Me”

“I Won’t Back Down”

“Here Comes My Girl”

“Handle With Care”

“Lover’s Touch”

“I’m A Man”

“Something Big”

“Saving Grace”

“Free Fallin’”

“Travelling Light”

“Something Good Coming”

“Learning To Fly”

“Yer So Bad”

“I Shoulda Known It”

“Good Enough”


“Runnin’ Down A Dream”


“Mary Jane”

“American Girl”

 This article has been corrected

Organizations: Blind Boys of Alabama

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Rock ON
    June 07, 2012 - 19:19

    Awesome concert. Worth every penny. Tom and the heartbreakers certainly know how to rock! Nothing wrong with having a beer or so at the concert, but I ain't gonna miss my $200 a seat show for a watery, warm $6 beer. Anybody getting in a "One Mile" long line up, at a show they paid top dollar to see, and miss 1/4 to 1/2 the show for a stupid beer, should stop wasting their money and stay home and drink. You obviously have your priorities screwed up.

    • Tony from paradise
      June 08, 2012 - 16:45

      Hey Rock On!! You missed my point . I said" People do not wish to stand in line for a beer or snack for up to 30 minutes. You sir are my case and point. Nothing wrong with a beer ..You said so your self. But you do not wish to stand in line for a warm beer as you say it. Neither do I. In cans they are cold ..and when, brought to my seat by a server.. You and I will not miss the $200 show. So we are only 2 of thousands that choose not to line up and spend our money. That sir was the money maker for the fine managers. Have a nice day!!

  • Dwayne Culll
    June 04, 2012 - 19:08

    Hey Tony, now don't go telling the "Entertainment Guru's" how to run their business. I wonder if some of those guys ever looked at how the operation runs from the customers point of view. I think you have nailed a couple of issues and they should take heed...unfortunately I doubt they will....

  • Tony in Paradise
    June 04, 2012 - 16:25

    When are the managers at mileone going to realise they are loosing a ton of money by the way the stadium is being operated. People do not wish to stand in line for 30 to 40 minutes to get served a snack or beverage. i have a solution for you fine managers. First start serving beer in cans.. No cups needed which is wasting time, Second ..serve beer to patrons in the stands the way you would sell fifty fifty tickets. Third charge an even number for beer,drinks and or snacks so there is no small change needed .(ie.$5.00 or $6.00). Everyone wins guys make more money .Patrons can enjoy the show they paid for and the complaints stop.

  • Vanessa M
    June 04, 2012 - 12:07

    AMAZING CONCERT!!!! Can't wait till he comes back again. This time I wont be complaining about the prices. Well worth every penny

  • Shannon Reardon
    June 04, 2012 - 10:00

    It's "Listen to Her Heart".

  • Petty Fan
    June 04, 2012 - 07:40

    The concert was AMAZING, but I'm a little peaved that my $200 a pop seats were obstructed, while the people a a couple seats away paid on $60 and had a completley unobstructed view for ALOT less! The seats were definatelty not worth the price, but at least Mr. Petty made up for it!

    • OBSTRUCTED view
      June 05, 2012 - 09:54

      Petty Fan - I totally agree, the ticket I had was 210 and the people who paid $80 had a non-obstructed view. If the band is going to put up receivers/speakers on either side of the stage, then DON"T charge maximum prices for these seats. They need to be obstructed view prices. When you have to slide down in your seat or keep moving to either side to see the performer that's not a good seat. It was very frustrating