Words by Martin Halo | Photos by Joe Papeo

Touring in support of Mojo, Tom Petty continues his strut through America’s Northeast Corridor with a weeknight performance at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. The condemned sports arena, nestled in the shadow of the new billion dollar home to New York Football, returns to life with the sputter of a convoy of gypsy tour buses.

Petty, who has demonstrated a larger than life consistency to songwriting over the duration of 40+ years, arrived to deliver the gems. As My Morning Jacket warmed the crowd with notable renditions of “Golden” and “One Big Holiday,” the venue began to swell. Pop Noir songstress Nicole Atkins watched from the wings as Petty and his Heartbreakers emerged into the Jersey spotlight.


The set opened with “Listen to Her Heart” as each band member was projected on large monitors towering over the audience. Much like his famed recordings, the setlist at the Izod Center was packed with a handful of classics. “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” off the 1994 solo release of Wildflowers, bled into “I Won’t Back Down,” and the Jeff Lynne produced “Free Fallin’.”

Mike Campbell’s guitar licks cut through the echoing boom of an audience singing every word and by the time the final F chord on “Free Fallin’” came to a close the entire place was buzzing. There is something about seeing Tom Petty live that renews your belief in music. His performances resonate and exist for the satisfaction of his audiences. When you see him in concert, he plays everything you want to hear and let’s be honest about it, for Tom Petty the cards he holds up his sleeve would be a gross luxury for any entertainer.

The true highlight of the evening came from speakers of Mike Campbell as he led the charge with the lick to “Oh Well,” a 1969 cover from Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Petty moved to the microphone and delivered two electrifying vocals lines:

“Can’t help about the same I’m in, I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin.
I talk to God above I know he understands, he said ‘stick by me I’ll be your guiding hand.’ Don’t ask me what I think of you. You might not get the answer the you want me to.”

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” led into “Kings Highway” off the 1991 release of Into the Great Wide Open and capped with “Breakdown.” As the set settled in, the band began to clump the new tracks which populated Mojo for digestion. The slow roasted blues of “Good Enough” and “I Should Have Known It,” were the notables before the choir of the congregation joined in for “Learning to Fly.” Lyrics of dirty roads and starting out all alone was the quintessential battle cry.

“American Girl” finished the encore and the band bid farewell. It’s great to have Tom back on the road!


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
6. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
7. Kings Highway
8. Breakdown
9. Jefferson Jericho Blues
10. Good Enough
11. Running Man’s Bible
12. I Should Have Known It
13. Learning to Fly
14. Don’t Come Around Here No More
15. Refugee


16. Running Down A Dream
17. American Girl


TheWaster.com | New Jersey