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Interview:
Tom Petty, Heartbreakers Bring Some "Mojo" To The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- "You're a rock 'n' roll town," Tom Petty told the crowd at the Palace on Thursday night (July 22), "so we're gonna give you a rock 'n' roll show."

That's pretty much what Petty and his Heartbreakers do every time they hit the stage, of course, and this summer's stop -- part of a tour promoting the group's new album, "Mojo" -- was no exception. For an hour and 45 minutes, the sextet delivered a high-energy set laden with favorites for an audience of mostly baby boomers who were clearly and deliriously happy to have the troupe back in town.

They didn't have to wait for the hits, either. After a sturdy hour-long opening set from the Drive-By Truckers, "Listen to Her Heart" got Petty's show off to a ringing start, followed by the rootsy "You Don't Know How It Feels," the defiant "I Won't Back Down" and the melodic "Free Fallin'," all finished with Petty raising his arms in justifiable triumph, like a quarterback who just threw a touchdown pass. He was in fine voice, and the Heartbreakers -- particularly lead guitarist Mike Campbell, who came "back off the disabled list" after heat exhaustion forced the group to postpone its Cleveland area show earlier this week -- simply played as strong as they ever have.

It wasn't all a slam-dunk hit parade, however. Some 50 minutes in -- after crowd-pleasing renditions of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well," "Mary Jane's Last Dance," "You Wreck Me" and an extended call-and-response "Breakdown" -- Petty announced it was time to "lay a little 'Mojo' on you," kicking into five straight songs from the new album. It was a daring move that put several fans in their seats, despite the energetic performances of blues-steeped material such as "Jefferson Jericho Blues," "Runnin' Man's Bible" and the muscular "I Should Have Known It," though interestingly there was little of the mass exodus to the concourse that usually accompanies new material. It had a beat, certainly, but the fans chosen to listen to it rather than dance.

They were back on their feet soon enough, though, after the delicate "Learning to Fly" led into the trippy "Don't Come Around Here No More," with lasers creating dancing patterns on the Palace roof, and "Refugee," with "Runnin' Down a Dream" and "American Girl" for encores.

So it was indeed a rock 'n' roll show, by intent and in reality, and a reminder that few do that as well as Petty and the Heartbreakers.



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