The polished sound of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers filled the starry sky at Great Woods recently. The two shows were the final ones of the summer concert series at Mansfield’s terrific, open-air arena. Petty was in high gear, in his own mellow way, as he pumped out almost all the tracks from the recently released album, “Into the Great Wide Open.” The blond-haired Wilbury also dug out all of the old hits and the crowd ate it up. Petty found a perfect blend of old and new.
Just as expected, Petty put on a quality show that focused on the music and did not get caught up in gimmicks and tricks. The stage layout only consisted of a gigantic, petrified tree. It had two enormous branches that extended in either direction across the stage. A staircase ran up the front of the tree to a doorway at the top of its mid-section. It was from this door that the “psychedelic dragon” came, carrying Tom’s harmonica for some down-home boogie.
Although the volume wasn’t really loud enough, the sound was still clear and crisp. The songs were just varied enough to make a strong live version, but not so that they didn’t even resemble the studio cuts. There was a great balance of smash hits and the band’s own favorites.
During an intense performance of “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” the strobe was turned on and three men in tuxedos, wearing masks of Reagan, Bush, and Nixon, came and chased the headliner around the stage. At last Petty escaped up the stairs to the doorway in the tree. He stepped inside for a split second and returned with a neon-red peace symbol. The former presidents turned and fled in fear at the sight of the huge sign. The crowd went nuts. It was the highlight of a great concert.
Tom Petty proved once again that great music and talented, well-practiced musicians can still carry a show without using lasers, videos, or fireworks. The intensity was definitely visible, but the concert didn’t become a bunch of screaming fans and psychotic band members. The music flowed through the crowd and gave Great Woods an incredibly calm atmosphere.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers did Great Woods justice by closing out its season with a powerful concert. The music lovers in the Boston area should be eagerly awaiting their return. n