The night after hosting a terrible loss for the Detroit Pistons, the Palace of Auburn Hills welcomed the legendary music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Saturday to bring some happiness to the people of Michigan, especially the band’s No. 1 fan.
This was my second time seeing the band live, but the butterflies were still there.
I became a fan club member so I could get amazing seats, and there I was, dead center, main floor, about thirty rows back — a perfect view of the stage.
The night started with a great opening act from well-known rock ‘n’ roller Steve Winwood. I wasn’t familiar with Winwood by name, but once he displayed his musical skills by switching between piano and guitar while singing “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “Higher Love,” the music was very familiar.
After Winwood’s almost hour-long set, the crowd gave him a much deserved standing ovation, but as he was ending I was excited because I was ready for the main event.
Finally, after what felt like hours of set-up, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers walked on stage. The Palace was completely dark as the opening chords of “You Wreck Me” filled the stadium. The crowd went crazy, the lights shown on the band, and there was Tom Petty in the flesh. From that opening alone, I knew it was going to be a wild night.
For the next two hours, it was a fantastic experience through the band’s decades of hit singles. I could clearly see all the members that I had grown to love after watching the documentary “Runnin’ Down a Dream” too many times to count. It was a dream fulfilled, as I was right there with Petty, singing all the words to my favorite songs like “Free Fallin’,” “Learning To Fly,” and “Refugee.”
The energy was high with each member of the band giving it their all. The drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals sounded just like the recorded versions of the songs but better with extended rock improvisation between verses. The only problem was that I wanted them to play longer.
Although Winwood has been producing music for about 40 years and Petty for about 30, they didn’t miss a beat. They were rocking harder and better than anyone half their age, and I feel privileged to have experienced it.
It was truly a great night of classic rock music.