Written by Eddie Ferranti
Aug 05, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageI was curious to experience the Tom Petty “Highway Companion Tour” stop in Houston coming off the heals of seeing them slay ’em in Seattle 6 days earlier.

What I found to begin with was an incredible temperature difference. 57 at show time in Washington compared to about 500 in the Woodlands of Texas!! There was not a hint of a breeze to be found. Beer lines were endless. That being said, the temp ON stage was hotter! Tom and his Heartbreakers came struttin’ out grinning from ear to ear, ready to blow some of that heat out of Texas! Man did they…

The set list remained basically the same from the White Water gig, except this go round there was no “The Waiting” because Eddie Vedder was absent. No problem. The band seemed geared up for the heat challenge and had a little more spring in their step.

The stage was lower and much tighter, too. This made the interaction between the band very hot indeed. TP was so overwhelmed by the response from the adoring crowd. That is a very charming part of this dude. He is NEVER full of himself. Ever. His due is just now starting to be realized 30 years in, although his loyal fans will tell ya otherwise. Speaking of which, Petty has a Message board / Fan Club that is quite cool. These folks are genuine and stand behind a band that has stood the test of time for sure. I appreciate the fact that I was invited to their before
(4:30pm!!!) and after party (Closed down hotel bar!!).

ImageAs far as the show, they covered the whole gambit-from encore ending “American Girl” (with Stevie Nicks) to new tunes “Saving Grace” from his latest album. The fans sang every word to almost every tune, prompting Tom to “blush” and say that they were “Knocking them over up here” with their singing! The covers that TP & HB’s dropped on the crowd were quite awesome, from Yardbird’s “I’m a Man”, early Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac “Oh Well” and KILLER encore set tune of Van Morrison’s “Mystic Eyes”!
8 songs in TP dropped yet another bomb on the sweat drenched crowd when he brought on “honorary Heartbreaker” Stevie Nicks!

Stevie appeared fired up and kicked up her heels literally to the duet of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and SMOKIN’ HOT “I Need To Know”! After a slow down set of “Square One”, “Insider” and “Learning to Fly” to let the crowd-and band-catch their collective breath, the evening’s highlight was about to hit. If the three song set of “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, “Refugee” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” did not bring you to an orgasmic state, then you were NOT there at all!  Mike Campbell just leveled the place with blistering extended solos on every tune! The video screens excelled at this point also-especially on “Runnin’ Down a Dream”!

I feel like lived out a fantasy being able to cover this wonderful band and their leader Tom Petty twice in a week. I’ve been there since the beginning and I cannot believe the man is actually going to stop touring. He may slow it down a notch, but this band needs to play live. Not only for themselves-because they really LOOK like they are enjoyng themselves-but for the sake of Rock ‘N Roll period. 20+ songs of 100% effort and perfection happens night in and night out. Tell me who can deliver that kind of message on today’s rock landscape……………? That’s what I thought. Few. Hope y’all had as much fun as I did witnessing a major chapter in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legacy on a blistering hot night in the Lone Star State, soaking wet clothes and all! This tour -and band-will be talked about for years to come…………OUT and long live LIVE music!