Written by Samuel Barker
Aug 29, 2008 at 07:00 PM
Redundancy. That sums up what you can say about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It has all been said and the good certainly rings true. In an era of reunion acts hitting the road to cash in after years of hatred in their ranks, Petty and his Heartbreakers have been going strong for decades.

The stop at the Woodlands was the final show of a long summer tour that saw the band weaving across the United States for sold out show after sold out show. Some have mentioned a “resurgence” from the band, but for most in attendance, they never knew he was gone.

Despite showing contempt for the music industry and the corporate control involved over his career, just see his triumphant stand on The Last DJ, Petty has never brought angst to the stage. He’s a man who loves music and genuinely feels lucky to be travelling the world playing his songs. Too many times do elder rockers stand, like statues, and beat out obscure tracks for an hour and close with an encore of their hits. It becomes expected, boring and downright insulting to the people who love and support the music.

Petty has none of that. He spins around the stage like a child dancing to the radio. He strums his guitars, which are constantly changing throughout the set, and plays with his fellow bandmates. Guitarist Mike Campbell has been in bands with Petty since the beginning and you can see the chemistry that exists between them after all these years.

The set list is full of hits. Petty can reach back to any period in the band’s catalog, his solo catalog (which feature most of the Heartbreakers backing him) or Travelling Wilburys catalog and find something that will light up the memories of those in attendance. From the opening of You Wreck Me to the closing of American Girl, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers delivered songs that summed up the lifetime of the audience, as well as themselves.

At the end of 41 tour dates, the band brought a stellar show to a sold out audience looking like they were still having the time of their life. Yes, this is a redundant statement, but in the end, it remains 100% true: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the last great American rock band.

Opening the show was Steve Winwood, who brought his fusion of adult contemporary, Caribbean beats and free-form instrumentals to town. It provided a nice soundtrack for those entering the venue and when hits like Roll With It, Baby and A Higher Love were broke out, the people were given a reason to stop and pay attention.