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Monday, July 19, 2010

Review + Photos + Setlist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Drive-By Truckers Steam Up St. Louis' Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, July 18, 2010

Posted By on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 9:31 AM

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click to enlarge Petty.  View more photos here. - TODD OWYOUNG

Still, playing the blues and jamming together has seemed to revitalize the Heartbreakers. They're always a well-rehearsed live band, but last night they felt particularly tight - from Benmont Tench's soul-drenched piano and bassist Ron Blair's bedrock foundation to drummer Steve Ferrone's nuanced thunder and Petty's pinpoint conductor ringleading. The ghostly psychedelic rock groove "Don't Come Around Here No More" - always a favorite - last night was a monster, with its booming drums and white-hot strobe-light ending.

And after all these years, the band is still clearly having fun onstage - "Oh Well" found Petty picking up maracas and walking around stage shaking them around like a goofball, to match the spoken-word lyrics he spat. During "You Don't Know How It Feels" he spun around on his heels and extended his arms with mincing precision. And as per usual, Petty grinned and soaked up the riotous cheers from the crowd with salutes and arms wide open.

At Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 2008 St. Louis show, an air of vulnerability permeated the set. But after last night- and despite Campbell taking ill -- the Heartbreakers felt granite-solid. Once again, it was Petty and his merry band of desperados moving across America, conquering town after town.

Drive-By Truckers opened the show with a generous hour-long set. The band wouldn't exist had Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers never formed, but its spin on Southern rock is grittier - a bottle of Jack and pack of Marlboros to Petty's party-favors weed and beer. The latter's longing and wistfulness ultimately feels optimistic; one has the sense that everything will be okay. With the Drive-By Truckers, though, there are no guarantees.

As the glaring sun set over the lawn, the band introduced character after character burdened by life. The minor-key, twang-curled "A Ghost to Most" and a laid-back, snarling new song "Ray's Automatic Weapon," felt especially poignant. "Santa Fe," dedicated by grizzled vocalist/songwriter Patterson Hood to a few band wives in attendance as being about homesickness, had appropriately lonely pedal steel.

Co-vocalist/songwriter Mike Cooley received many turns on lead vocals; the barn-burning "Birthday Boy," from the band's latest, The Big To-Do, was especially searing. (That same album's "Drag the Lake Charlie" also smoked.) The set built in intensity and frenzy - and while it's unclear whether Petty's fans warmed to the dirty rock boogies, the Drive-By Truckers gave them no reason not to.

click to enlarge Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers. View more photos here. - TODD OWYOUNG

Setlist: 1. Listen to Her Heart 2. You Don't Know How It Feels 3. I Won't Back Down 4. Free Fallin' 5. Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover) 6. Mary Jane's Last Dance 7. Going Down to Georgia 8. Breakdown 9. Jefferson Jericho Blues 10. Good Enough 11. Running Man's Bible 12. Takin' My Time 13. I Should Have Known It 14. Learning to Fly 15. Don't Come Around Here No More -- break to tend to Campbell -- 16. Refugee 17. Runnin' Down a Dream 18. American Girl

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