4th February 1997. America it seemed was in a state of flux, Bill Clinton had just been elected for a second term of office which would subsequently end in impeachment, showing that government officials are not always to be trusted. However, if the government were not to be trusted, perhaps the public were not to be either, un-break my heart by Toni Braxton was number 1 in the US charts setting the climate by which Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers pitched their residency.
Most importantly, Tom Petty had become disillusioned with his existing recording process. Having toured extensively with Bob Dylan he now believed that the root to recovering his recording career would be to hold a 10 night residency at the Fillmore, California.
And thus the stage was set, 70,000 crammed into the Filmore to witness a band who although may no longer be at the height of their powers, were certainly the master them.
As the case with many bands of the era, the heartbreakers were unable to hide behind the door-sized pedal boards of bands today. Instead, tone was found through beautiful instruments plugged into equally nice amps. A lead sound threatening to break up emphasised the control exerted from all sides of the stage as playful enjoyment helped to capture the essence of many songs of times before.
The set, which featured a strong list of the bands originals had been nuanced through an incredible selection of covers in turn creating the ultimate live performance.
Time is on my side proved as a poignant reminder that Petty still had a lot left in the tank although somewhat melancholic given he would die ten years later in 2017. Won’t back down proved a further highlight, performed in an understated fashion and inevitably sang back verbatim by an ever adoring crowd.
In the end, I couldn’t be more complimentary of this album. A set so complete with known hits that it could provide as justification for the genre of rock and roll, even if it was listed as its only point.