Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood @ XL Center, Hartford, CT 09.13.14

The smell of incense filled the XL Center as Steve Winwood walked onto the stage. With a wave to the audience, he sat behind the Hammond B3 Organ. Winwood played a set that spanned his musical career, from the Spencer Davis Group to Blind Faith to Traffic with only one from his solo career. There were outstanding solos from Jose Neto on guitar while Paul Booth played both soprano and tenor sax at the same time. The rhythm section of Richard Bailey on drums and Cafe Da Silva on bongos held the band together without the need of a bassist. Winwood jumped between keys and lead guitar and was rewarded by several standing ovations throughout his set. It was a spirited performance that lead into the main act.

“Call your babysitters and tell them they’re gonna have to stay late tonight,” Tom Petty explained to the crowd after his first song. Petty and the Heartbreakers were prepared to rock well into the night. The band gathered around Steve Ferrone’s drum kit, barely lit with blue lights from above. Ferrone counted out the beat to their opening song, a cover of The Byrds’ “So You Want to be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” which was the opening track to the bands album Pack up the Plantation: Live!. Petty turned to the audience with his sly smile and proceeded to play with as much energy as the 1985 live recording. Both Petty and guitarist Mike Campbell moved across the stage to greet the fans along the sides with grins before returning to the center to face each other.

While the two hour set only included four songs off their newest album, Hypnotic Eye, the crowd was more than enthusiastic about the string of hits the Heartbreakers played. Fans sang along even during the acoustic set, with Petty conducting them during Learning to Fly. Energy levels remained high throughout the night, especially during I Should Have Known It from 2010’s Mojo. Petty stood at his microphone without a guitar to fully attack the vocals. He grabbed a tambourine during one of Campbell’s solos and walked over to the left side of the stage to a roar of approval from the fans.

During “Refugee”, Petty pretended to slam his fist into the bass drum, while Ferrone actually produced the sound. During the third round of this, Ferrone mistimed the hit by several seconds, causing Petty to double over in laughter. That kind of playfulness encapsulated the night; six long time friends having a great time on stage together.

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

Tom Petty & 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’
Tweeter and the Monkey Man
U Get Me High
Yer So Bad
Learning to Fly
Shadow People
I Should Have Known It
Runnin’ Down a Dream
You Wreck Me
American Girl

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