Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers at Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, CA June 3, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

(Scroll down and skip to Monday, June 3 “ON WITH THE SHOW” below if you only want to read about the Tom Petty show details!)

I think I just witnessed a historical event.

P and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary a month early and flew to Hollywood to see Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers at The Fonda Theatre!  Tom and the boys are doing a spring and summer tour in small venues and paying homage to some of their musical heroes.  When we realized he wouldn’t be coming to Seattle, we jumped at the chance to see him in Hollywood.  He was scheduled to play there 6 nights; but due to our own full calendar, we could only see him the first night, if at all.  I decided if it was meant to be, I’d get the tickets for that first night.

On the appointed ticket sale day, I made sure to hop on Ticketmaster just minutes before the tickets became available. Miraculously, I bought two General Admission tickets for their first show, Monday, June 3.   Minutes later, every show sold out. I guess it was meant to be!

We arrived at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, a very small airport in close proximity to Hollywood.  We made the mistake of going through LAX one time and spent hours stuck on the freeway.  Never again! We rented a car–a Nissan Cube.  Good lord, we felt like dorks in that car.  It was pretty comfortable, but was slow to accelerate on the highway.  We drove to our hotel in a matter of minutes.

The Cube.

The Cube.

Hotel W, right on Hollywood Blvd, was just a block away from The Fonda Theatre.   As we soon discovered, Hotel W is also home of Jersey Shore.  As soon as we pulled up, a carload of bros decked out in their wife-beater tees, slicked back hair and huge sunglasses hopped out and looked around to see who was watching them.  They were everywhere.   We witnessed the end of a fight with guys hovering around their fallen comrade encouraging him to get over it and move on; a guy telling the hotel security guard he’s fired for not letting him in without his room card; bros giving bro hugs in the elevator and loudly bragging about their jet-setting all over the world; and just plain ridiculous behavior.  We knew we were in for it when the front desk clerk told us to sign a no-party conditional contract, separate from the usual check-in sheets, and then exclaimed that there are to be only two-heads-to-a-bed. Really.  I suddenly felt old and out-of-place.  On the upside, all of the hotel staff were polite and friendly to us, and the room was luxurious.

Since our room was not quite ready, we drove out to The Grove Farmers Market on 3rd for diner-style food and browsed the small shops under the maze of awnings.  We came back to the hotel and crashed after our long morning.

Later, we walked to Amoeba Music, found our boy a Live At Leeds original album by The Who (his favorite band in the universe), and then back to Fabiolus Italian Restaurant for a lovely early dinner and Limoncello cocktails.  We shared our favorite Tagliatele alla Bolognese and salads with bruschetta.  Next, we walked to IO Improv and purchased advance tickets,$10 each, to see guest host Angela Kinsey from The Office.  The show didn’t start until 10:00.

The Fonda Theatre Marquee!

The Fonda Theatre Marquee!

We ventured back down the street to check out the venue, and my heart raced when I saw the marquee.   Directly next door was the Blue Palms Brewhouse.  We grabbed a pint from the diverse menu and asked the bartender what the crowd would be like Monday night, and he predicted it would be jam-packed.

After sharing a giant piece of delicious pizza at a local take-out, we wandered back to IO that evening.  As guest host, Angela had to divulge a short personal story, based on a one-word suggestion from the audience.  Someone in the audience shouted out, “Narcissism!” and she told a story about her 5-year-old daughter and how demanding and self-centered she was, etc.  It was cute.  She was cute!  And so short! We were only about 6 feet from her, and there were maybe forty people were in attendance.  It was a really intimate theatre.  Then the rest of the improv people got on stage and acted out short sketches loosely based on Angela’s stories.  We were thoroughly entertained during the hour-long show.

IO Improv with guest host Angela Kinsey from The Office!

IO Improv with guest host Angela Kinsey from The Office!

Back to Hotel Jersey Shore.  It was hoppin’.  The security guards outside checked our room cards and made sure we were guests of the hotel.  Like that was hard to figure out, compared to the dudes posturing around us.  There was a swanky night club with a separate entry next to the hotel, so that was the reason so many young men and women came there.

Monday, June 3, 2013–Show Time!

We had a slow morning.  No rush–it was going to be a long night.  I finally got up and showered while P picked up coffee.  We decided to hit a good local restaurant for breakfast, but The Griddle where we planned to go was packed and there was no parking nearby.  We continued on past The Troubadour(!) and then on to Beverly Hills and Century City before finding a little cafe called Clementine.  I think it’s a chain, but they had a diverse selection of sandwiches and salads.

Historic Troubadour

Historic Troubadour

We then decided to drive all the way down the boulevard to Santa Monica Pier.  We parked pretty easily, and then walked out to the pier, about a quarter-mile out.  It was a nice stroll and not very crowded, since it was a Monday morning.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

After getting lost for about an hour on side streets, we made our way back to Hollywood and settled on a Mexican restaurant called 3 Dog Cantina for a late lunch.  We cooled off, relaxed for a bit and watched the people walk or stumble by our large window that opened to the sidewalk below.  The food here was excellent, too. Pat had mahi-mahi tacos that were perfectly cooked, and I had verde enchiladas and a jicama-cucumber salad.  The verde sauce was spicy-hot and so yummy.

Back at the hotel, I tried to relax, but I knew the show was coming up quickly.  We had a couple of hours to kill, but I didn’t know when we should get in line at The Fonda.   I always get anxious trying to figure out the pre-show activities.  Do we grab a bite? Go find a bar? Just go get in line and tough it out for 3 or 4 hours? Will we get a good spot on the floor if we wait longer, or get screwed and have to peer over hundreds of heads from the back?  I hate the what-ifs; they kill the mood and make me fidgety.

We finally got ready after compromising on a time and walked across the street to the infamous Frolic Room next to The Pantages Theatre, just half a block away from The Fonda.  The Frolic Room, a renowned dive bar, gave me the willies as we walked up to the entrance.  There were four security guards out front.  I expected some kind of rowdy crowd inside.  Instead we found a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar with a few local drunks.  They must have problems there when the sun goes down (see the linked article above for an interesting story).  We ordered some Jameson and sat next to the wall adorned with a giant mural of caricatures of stars drawn by a famous cartoonist.  It was covered with Plexiglas.  We sat next to Marilyn and Einstein’s caricatures.  Ol’ Al was enjoying a pint of cartoon beer.  I was silent and fidgety as I sipped my drink.  P knew what was going through my brain: Stay or go?  Stay or go?  I poured part of my drink into P’s glass.  We finished quickly and got the hell out.

We stepped out to the sidewalk.  I felt my heart jump to my throat as looked across the street to the theatre and saw that the line was already snaking around the building!  We hurried over, and P warned that I should check to be sure we were in the correct line.  I just saw the one line, so I felt sure we were in the right one.  I asked the people in line if this was the Will-Call line.  They assured me it was.  We stayed for about 10 minutes, but P felt uneasy.  I took his concerns seriously now, and we cut out of line.  I asked the ticket-takers at the front where the GA will-call line was.  Wrong line!  We had to hurry to the other side of the building, but now that line was down the block and around the corner!  Oh, I was so disappointed.  But at the same time, I didn’t think I’d survive getting there early and standing in line for over 2 hours in the heat, only to have to stand inside the theater for 2 more.  So I just took what I could get.  Once in the proper line, we did have a very nice conversation with a couple in front of us.  Their daughter purchased tickets for them, just like I did, by getting on Ticketmaster at exactly 10:00.  They were a very down-to-earth local couple, and we had a lot of fun talking about different shows we’d seen over the years.

After about a half an hour, were getting hungry and the line hadn’t moved.  P walked quickly across the street and picked up some orange chicken at a Chinese take-out and purchased some more water.  By the time we ate part of the chicken, the line finally started inching toward the doors.  I think we were outside at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half.  The attendants were late getting our line through, too.  I don’t think we entered the theater till almost 8.

I thought we wouldn’t  have a chance in hell of getting a good view, but lo and behold, once again the left side (Stage Right) was open!  We ended up about 6 people deep from the stage.  The view was a bit blocked by Benmont’s grand piano; so I think people opted to fill in the middle of the theatre instead dealing with a partial view.  That was fine with me; I had a perfect view of Tom, and Mike came over to our side several times during his solos.

A nice mom, dad and adult daughter from San Andreas stood in front of us.  We expressed our mutual love for Tom, and they told us how they drove 6 hours to get down to the show.  We made a pact with them to not let any rude people push their way in front of us.  Usually, Petty’s shows have adoring older fans who respect people’s space, but there’s always that one drunk or pesky young ‘un that tries to shove their way to the front of the stage.  So annoying.  As we got closer to the start time, people kept their ground and left gaps for breathing room and personal space.  No one seemed to be crowding forward, so that was a relief.  Pat also kept us situated next to a railing where there was an elevated platform for standing along the wall, so we had something to hold on to and be able to shift weight off one leg for a bit.

Right before the show began, a smaller guy asked P to please move over so he could get through the crowd with two or three girls.  P refused, and kept his hand firmly clenched on the railing.  The man said he needed to go backstage.  P said, “Sorry, you’re not getting in front of me.”  The man then said he was The OWNER of the club, and he did NOT like P’s attitude!  He gave me dagger eyes, too, and I scowled back, confused as to what he told P, as it was loud in there.  We then saw him take the girls backstage, and P realized his mistake!  He was humble enough to apologize to the owner as he walked back through the crowd; the man stopped, smiled and said, “I appreciate that you are such big Tom Petty fans!”  I told him we came all the way from Seattle for the show.  He said it was tough to get backstage through the crowd and there was no other access; so that’s why he had to cut in front of us along the side.  He said he’d be back with something for us.  He then came back and gave us 4 drink passes!  So sweet.  We didn’t see him after that, but P wrote a nice note thanking him on the theatre’s website.

Nothing is better than seeing a fantastic band in a small venue, and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is one of the world’s best bands to see live.  We had such a great time getting sweaty, singing along, taking pics, clapping, cheering, screaming, and loving every minute of the show.  It was truly breathtaking to be that close to the whole band.  We had the crazy luck of seeing Tom in 2008 at The Troubadour, but that only included Tom, Mike, Benmont and his old band mates from Mudcrutch who produced a new album that year.  That was a fun album to hear live;  they also played some great old covers, but no Heartbreakers songs.  We were so close that I could have touched his guitar!  I tried not to compare The Troubadour show to this new one at The Fonda because they were two different animals.  At The Fonda, we were also miraculously close, considering how long the line was to get in.  Again, I felt that fate had played some kind of part.  The fact that I even got tickets was some kind of miracle.  I just went with the flow.  It was meant to be.

There is something special about Tom that brings people together.  People want to talk about his music, his shows, and what he means to them.  I have met so many people who have such a deep love for him and the band.  His music touched me when I was just a kid trying to make it as a teenager.  Damn the Torpedoes was my first album I ever purchased, and his lyrics spoke to my soul.  Other people commented that Tom’s music brought them together by some coincidence or helped mend their broken hearts or helped them remember a deceased loved one through his words.  It’s almost spooky. The first time I saw Tom at a live show was at The Gorge in 1995.  I’d missed seeing him perform in my teenage years, so I was beside myself with excitement to finally get see him as an adult.  What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks after the show was that I was pregnant with our son!  That show will always be a part of our son’s story.  We tell him that he was in attendance at my first Tom Petty show.  Our boy’s middle name is Thomas, which is also his great-grandfather’s middle name.  Close enough; I’m willing to share.

ON WITH THE SHOW!

Minutes before showtime, the crowd grew restless and cheered after the background music ended, hoping they were turning it off to start the show.  Then another song came on and everyone grumbled.  FINALLY…the background music stopped abruptly in the middle of a song, the house lights dimmed and all 1,200 of us went crazy!  Tom and the band took their places on the dimly lit stage, and the spotlights flashed on as they hit their first note.  For such a small venue, the place was rockin’ and the noise was at an eardrum-splitting volume.  Tom had arrived! I was in awe, once again, at how close we were to my musical hero.

Tom Petty

Tom Petty

I looked back at P, cussed and smiled as Tom blasted into “Rock & Roll Star”.  For some reason, I develop a potty mouth at Tom’s shows.  I get surprised by the songs—some of which he’s never played live and others I hoped he played.  So when Tom or Mike play a guitar lick and I figure out the song, I turn around to P and smile, then let out a big, “Holy Sh#*!”  P gets a kick out of that because he knows, at that moment, I’m one of the happiest people on Earth.

Tom with Ron Blair and Scott Thurston

Tom with Ron Blair and Scott Thurston

Here is a short blog and pics of the first night from Tom Petty’s Website: http://www.tompetty.com/blog/fonda-theatre-night-one-recap-photos-set-list-134546  Check out the comments, too, on other shows.  People who attended these shows will remember them forever.

Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell

Here is the setlist with my comments to the right of some of the songs.  You can see numerous YouTube videos of different songs from different nights.  Just search for Tom Petty, plug in the song name, and look for Fonda Theatre posts:

Rock & Roll Star  Tom set the tone for the night and garnered wild cheers after this Byrds cover

Love Is A Long Road 

I Won’t Back Down  Heyyy Baaaby!  There ain’t no easy way ouuut…! Audience sang along loudly

Fooled Again 

Cabin Down Below  From Wildflowers – I like this one—a little darker and sexier than some of his others

Good Enough  MOJO – with Mike on screamin’ guitar solos in a slow, bluesy grind

Steppin’ Stone (cover)

Woman In Love From Hard Promises – Fantastic live version

Billy the Kid  The man next to me was impressed by my knowledge of this deep cut from Echo.  He told me I must be a real, hardcore fan!  Yep.  Tom exclaimed that he does not play many songs from Echo, and that it took many visits to the psychiatrist to figure out why he does not play many songs from Echo…I sang along, “Well, I went down hard/like Billy the Kid…”

Tweeter And The Monkey Man  Bob D and Wilburys-not sure I’d like this because I loved so many other Wilbury songs, but they stepped up.  Petty added a clearer voice with just enough sneer, and the boys pitched in on chorus

Rebels  another beautiful acoustic number

Hard To Find A Friend  Acoustic, nice and soft

Angel Dream  Tom mentioned tonight was his wedding anniversary.  Twelve years of wedded bliss!  This song is from the 1996 movie soundtrack She’s The One and one of the last songs he played at the Gorge in 1995—the first time I’d seen him.  Such a quiet, beautiful, perfect love song.

Willin’ Little Feat cover

Melinda Benmont had an extended solo on this one.

I Should Have Known It  MOJO – rockin’ song to start the beginning of the end with incredible riffs and solo from Mike.

Refugee P has video of this and it’s amazing.  So much energy.  I liked what they did with it-Mike’s solos once again just blasted it into the audience

Runnin’ Down A Dream Such a big sound.  Guitar riff such a classic Mike sound.  The boys then took a short break as the crowd stomped, clapped and cheered wildly for more.

E: You Wreck Me See my VIDEO at top of blog–My favorite from Wildflowers.  Tom quiets down in the middle, giving hand signals to drummer Steve to come in with a bang before continuing on to the latter half of the song.I’ll be the boy/in the corduroy pants/you be the girl/at the high school dance!”  Everyone sang along and bounced as they cranked it up a notch.  You can hear the audience join in as Tom smiled back and let them take over.

American Girl “We’re gonna leave you where it all started.” The frenetic finale got everyone moving and singing, but feeling like the show was ending way too soon.  A bittersweet goodbye.

DSC02615

Throughout the show, the band seemed loose, relaxed and out to have a good time—so similar to the boys’ residency at The Troubadour in 2008.  Although they are such a powerful band, a small venue just suits them.  They played with the audience, got close to the edge of the stage, smiled and gestured.  Their instrumental skill and Tom’s vocal prowess has not wavered.  They had a strong and positive energy that enveloped the audience.  The crowd responded in kind with explosive cheers, song requests, and shouts for more.  During a quieter moment, one girl yelled for them to play “Louisiana Rain”, so I followed suit and yelled for “No Second Thoughts” hoping for an addition to the setlist, but to no avail.  Talk about deep tracks! We  just soaked in every minute.   We became one with the rest audience—a sweaty mass of humanity all gathered for the same purpose.  Tom and the boys delivered in a big way.  Many of the fan comments on Tom’s website  included the phrases, “A class act…best Tom Petty show I’ve ever seen…”.  I concur.

Spotlights on The Heartbreakers

Spotlights on The Heartbreakers

After the jaw-dropping sweat-fueled encore, we reluctantly left–only when the house lights came on and we knew for sure that Tom was not coming back for a second encore.  We were spent and exhilarated! P and I filed out to the sidewalk and into the cool breeze.  We decided to debrief next door at The Blue Palms Brewhouse.  I thought the pub would be packed after the show, but only a few people milled around by the bar.  We saw someone who looked like our friend from Bellingham at the bar. It didn’t register with me at first, because I thought she was only going to Tuesday’s show.  It was our friend, and she was able to get tickets to Monday’s show, too. What a complete coincidence, that out of the 1,200 people in the vicinity, we would run into her after the show.  Tom’s MOJO was at it again!

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June 12, 2013 - Posted by | Concert Season 2013, The Fonda Theatre, Tom Petty | , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Wow, aside from the fact that I’m now starving from reading about all that delicious food. It looks like you had quite the adventure. Not sure if I’d ever want to stay in a hotel like that. Wow.

    Great post.

    Comment by Fannie Cranium | June 13, 2013 | Reply

  2. Petty is the best in the ‘biz. People will be talking about these shows for years to come. Last Saturday’s show ended abruptly when the Fire Marshal shut the show down due to too many people crowding onto the floor level. Poor Tom had to announce that they had to stop the show about 2/3 of the way through. BUT, Tom and crew were able to give a FULL REFUND for that show to everyone! Pretty amazing. Class Act.

    We researched some of the restaurants before we left to make sure we enjoyed a few good meals! Yum. We picked the hotel due to its proximity to the theatre. Can’t win ’em all!

    Comment by aplscruf | June 13, 2013 | Reply

  3. […] Petty (DUH.) And here’s the latest, if you didn’t check out our trip to Hollywood earlier this year. BEST SHOW OF THE […]

    Pingback by Concert Season 2013 Wrap-up « Aplscruf's Music Blog | October 11, 2013 | Reply


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