Words by Steve Melone | Photo by Dana Distortion

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Steve Winwood. Madison Square Garden. Some would call this just another concert, others would describe it as rock and roll heaven. Only the latter would be correct.

On Wednesday night a mostly packed MSG was able to witness the rock and roll legends in person at a venue Petty called, “the greatest rock and roll arena on earth.” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ most recent release, Hypnotic Eye, brought the artists out on tour to show fans they haven’t missed a beat over the years. Not even close.

Steve Winwood opened the night, telling the crowd their would be “music of a vintage nature,” for the audience to hear. Winwood played Traffic’s “Medicated Goo,” “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Empty Pages,” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” Fans were even lucky enough to hear him perform Blind Faith’s “Cant Find My Way Home,” and his own “Higher Love.” His guitar playing was on point throughout the show, surprising those less familiar with his work. His voice even sounded as authentic as ever, as he belted out lyrics straight from his soul to the New York City crowd. After a nine song set list, Tom Petty graced the stage to a screaming audience with the Heartbreakers close behind him.

Without saying a word, they opened their set with a cover of The Byrd’s “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.” Not long after Petty explained, “We’re going to play an industrial rock and roll set tonight. Better call the baby sitter.” He warned the crowd, “There’s a teenage boy in your house right now!”

Petty was more than thankful to his fans and even happier to be playing. At certain moments Petty stopped and soaked in the love from the fans, lifting his arms and inviting more cheers to give him his rockstar fuel for the show. Not many artists are as self actualized as Tom Petty and fewer are as talented. And keep in mind that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers aren’t one of those bands who have just two or three songs they’re known by, it’s more like ten or fifteen.

At one point Petty picked up his acoustic guitar for a more quiet, and slow paced set of songs; playing an acoustic version of “Rebels” to start. He went on soon after to play a very spiritual sounding rendition of “Learning to Fly,” that the crowd helped chant along the way. Tom and the boys played crowd favorites, “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin,” “Refugee,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” to name a few.

Heartbreaker’s guitarist Mike Campbell stole songs during the show with his unique lead guitar. Campbell is known as an underrated guitarist, who rather then showoff plays what the song calls for. Petty called him one of the most “badass guitar players around.” During the show he introduced the other Heartbreakers, recounting stories and cracking jokes. You could just tell that he couldn’t be happier with his job, and even explained that “rock and roll will set you free.”

As they left the stage shortly after, the crowd started yelling for the return. The unsurprising, but ever necessary encore. After Petty and Campbell put out their cigarettes back stage, they came back up for three songs to end the night. They played “You Wreck Me,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” and ended with “American Girl” before calling it a night.

If you’ve ever enjoyed one song from this band for one second, then you don’t know what your missing out on. Whether it’s a live show or listening to one of their albums, this band is absolute legend in the rock world. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are pure rock and roll, and it doesn’t get much better. Long live rock!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Setlist:
So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
Mary Jane’s Last Dance
American Dream Plan B
Into the Great Wide Open
Forgotten Man
I Won’t Back Down
Free Fallin’
A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)
U Get Me High
Two Gunslingers
Yer So Bad
Learning to Fly
Shadow People
I Should Have Known It
Runnin’ Down a Dream

You Wreck Me
(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
American Girl

Steve Winwood Setlist:
I’m a Man
Them Changes
Can’t Find My Way Home
Medicated Goo
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Empty Pages
Higher Love
Dear Mr. Fantasy
Gimme Some Lovin


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