Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at The Gorge 8.15.14

Steve, Mike and Tom

Steve, Mike, Tom and Ron

Tom Petty hasn’t played The Gorge in four long years.  Last time in 2010, we had a pretty negative experience which had nothing to do with Tom’s fantastic show. The disorganized crowd management system sent the entire ticket-holding population through a very narrow funnel of bag checks and scans which delayed entrance at least an hour; hundreds of people missed the opener, Joe Cocker, altogether. We arrived early and were fortunate to get to our seats partway through Cocker’s mind-blowing set.  We also had trouble with drunks that walked on chair seats in front of us, and more than once fell into us. I literally caught guys falling so I didn’t get smashed underneath them. Our view of the stage was also partially obscured by a big curtain, although the ticket info never stated that when I purchased them online.  After seeing Tom in such intimate spaces as The Troubadour and The Fonda Theatre, our expectations were low this time around.  As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Gorge Disciples

The Gorge Disciples

Pat and I always “rough it” in The Gorge campground.  We create a makeshift camp by taking a large tent fly and extend it off the back of our Explorer and set up a small table and camp chairs, protected by sun or rain.We bring a cooler and have snacks before and after the show. A double air mattress fits in the back. It’s fairly comfy, although sleep is minimal due to the loud campers surrounding us that stay up till the wee hours.  Potty time means trudging several yards through rows of campers to the honey bucket zone.  After the show, it doesn’t smell so great. That is to be expected, though, and we deal with it because it beats the nearly three-hour drive home at midnight.

Cave B Inn

Cave B Inn

This show, though, was our best experience so far, surprisingly due to a communication snafu with our friends’ VIP tickets. Our Bellingham buddies L and K had the fortune of staying at Cave B Inn, a beautiful hotel, restaurant and winery with additional cottages nestled into the basalt cliffs, like caves.  As an added bonus, they purchased VIP tickets, which offered early access in a separate entrance and choice, third-row seating.

After we set up camp in the rain (it was predicted to clear up by concert time–rain was another first for us here in the desert), our friends picked us up early so we could grab tickets and head back to Cave B for wine tasting and dinner before the show. We were able to get our general sale Will-Call tickets (10th row) right away. They were not able to pick up their VIP tickets because of a print error between the marketing campaign email and the information received at the ticket window as to the ticket distribution time.  K, who had arranged for the tickets, immediately called the customer service department and left a message after politely arguing with the ticket window agent who insisted they would not be able to pick up their tickets for another two hours, even though he showed the agent the email stating they could pick them up at three o’clock.  The customer service rep called him back within a half hour and asked what it would take to remedy the situation.  K said, “Four passes to the Cliffhouse Lounge should do it.”

View from the Cliffhouse

View from the Cliffside Lounge

After a luxurious time at Cave B where we enjoyed wine tasting and a delicious dinner, we received wristbands for the VIP Cliffhouse Lounge with air conditioning, flush toilets and a screamin’ view of The Gorge and purple sunset. We could only see the back and side of the stage, but the desert view and cool breeze made up for sitting on those metal chairs among the crowd of thousands of “commoners”.  We missed opener Steve Winwood completely, but we saw him here in 2008.  We could hear his music from our perch, though. We cooled off and watched the first half of the Seahawks game, too, before walking down to our assigned seats for Tom Petty’s show. I could get used to this. Thanks, L and K, for letting us tag along in style!

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (Benmont out of pic, on left at piano)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (Benmont out of pic, at grand piano)

Tom’s Gorge show was a sing-along mix of Greatest Hits, threaded with some new songs from Hypnotic Eye, which hit #1 on The Billboard charts and received a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. He also threw in a few rare gems from the past: “Into The Great Wide Open”, “Hard to Find A Friend”, and “Yer So Bad”.

Light Show

Light Show

The light show was fantastic and colorful–I wondered if they purposely lit them in Seahawks colors.  The lights were the best I’ve seen there with any band.  Large viewing screens on each side flashed with lots of close-up shots or interesting graphics throughout the evening.

Showing off another guitar

Showing off another guitar

The boys were energetic and played to the audience.  Each member of the band had their moment to shine. Mike and Tom moved around the whole stage and made sure we all got a good look at both of them. Tom’s vocals were top-notch and never faltered.  His sneering lyrics on the new “American Dream Plan B” brought to mind earlier material from the 1970’s.  His faithful disciples sang along on cue as he raised his arms in triumph.  Tom toned it down a notch for “Rebels” and brought out a beautiful acoustic guitar.  It’s such a lovely song to hear live.  He apologized for not being so talkative this night because he said he had a lot of songs to play for us.  Mike’s guitar solos were phenomenal, especially on Mojo’s bluesy “I Should Have Known It” and a favorite classic, “Refugee”.   Also, Mike and Tom switched out guitars almost every song. We lost track of how many we saw!  Some I recognized from previous shows, but there were quite a few new ones in the stack this time.

Rebels

Rebels

The Gorge crowd was also pleasant.  The people in our row and surrounding us were polite, friendly, and not completely drunk. We all sang along with the boys and batted at balloons and beach balls, adding to the summer fun.  As predicted, the sky cleared and the stars shone brightly above us.

DSC06224

Guitar Duet

Mike Campbell solo

Mike Campbell solo

Tom

Tom

Here’s a review from Todd Hamm of The Seattle Times and Tom’s setlist as it appears on his website:

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/soundposts/2014/08/16/tom-petty-at-top-of-his-game-at-gorge-concert-review/

http://www.tompetty.com/blog/gorge-recap-setlist-photos-395376

So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n Roll Star (The Byrds cover)
Mary Jane’s Last Dance
American Dream Plan B
Into The Great Wide Open
Forgotten Man
I Won’t Back Down
Free Fallin’
Tweeter and The Monkey Man (Traveling Wilburys cover)
U Get Me High
Rebels
Hard To Find A Friend
Yer So Bad
Learning to Fly
Shadow People
I Should Have Known It
Refugee
Runnin’ Down A Dream

Encore:
You Wreck Me
American Girl

DSC06307

Taking a Bow

I always get a little misty-eyed during “American Girl”, knowing this is the last song of the evening.  Tom and the band reserve a burst of energy for this song, making it a fantastic, explosive conclusion to the night.  So bittersweet.

We said goodbye and trudged along the path for what seemed like an hour, back to our campsite.  We had arrived in the afternoon to a fairly empty field, and now it was completely full. Walls of RV’s, trailers and tents surrounded us.  Where the hell was our truck?  We ended up walking another 20 minutes or so up and down the aisles of vehicles searching for our campsite.  The campground needed some colored flags to mark the rows or something. Finally, Pat’s good sense of direction guided us to the right location.  Exhausted, we slept for a few hours before heading home at sunrise.

Advertisements

September 16, 2014 - Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: