Aplscruf's Music Blog

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.



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.


Guitar Duet

Mike Campbell solo

Mike Campbell solo



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



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
Hard To Find A Friend
Yer So Bad
Learning to Fly
Shadow People
I Should Have Known It
Runnin’ Down A Dream

You Wreck Me
American Girl


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.

September 16, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , , | Leave a comment

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.


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.


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!



June 12, 2013 Posted by | Concert Season 2013, The Fonda Theatre, Tom Petty | , , , , | 3 Comments

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers May 12, 2001

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The Gorge Amphitheatre
George, WA
With guest opener The Wallflowers
Saturday, May 12, 2001

Ahhh, the Gorge season has begun.  What a grand way to start the season of concerts with no other than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers!

We saw Tom at the Gorge in back 1995 with our friends from Sunnyside.  Little did I know I was pregnant with our son at the time.  We had so much fun, but it was a bit cold.  It was also the Gorge season opener in early May.  I enjoyed every minute and refused to leave until he was finished with the last song.  When the tickets went on sale this time, I had to go.  We missed his Echo tour two years ago because we already purchased tickets to Mellencamp and had other things planned for the summer [what was I thinking??].  P called me at work and told me he got Row 25.  That was so nice of him; he doesn’t even like going to concerts, so I was really surprised.  We got the same row we were in last time.

The day of the concert, May 12, was a very busy day.  We first had to go to our son’s t-ball game.  I opted to stay home and pack; we weren’t very organized the night before.  I was ready to go as soon as the boys came back from the game.  It was nice and sunny outside.  P said it would be hot in Eastern Washington, but I decided to wear jeans and take shorts, just in case.  I knew how cold-blooded I could be.  I managed to pack several layers of clothing into a large backpack.

We grabbed a bite and headed to our first stop, Cle Elum.  We spent some time visiting with P’s folks.  They wanted to cook us dinner, but we needed to head down the road.  We knew the lines would be long to get into the Gorge.  We also needed the freedom of being alone, if only for a few hours.  We kissed the boy goodbye and headed East.

There is only one road in and only one big place to park: on a hay-field above the amphitheatre.  As we were driving East to Vantage, we noticed the temperature gauge was going up and up.  Eighty-six, eighty-seven…ninety degrees!  I couldn’t believe it.  We opened the sunroof and enjoyed the heat for a little while, then blasted the air conditioning.  We passed an RV with a sign in the window that said, “Petty Bound.”  I started getting really excited then!

We got to within a mile of the parking area and stopped in a huge traffic jam.  No one was moving.  We sat there for probably 20 minutes, then suddenly everyone moved along at a fast pace.  They must have let in a certain number of vehicles and waited for them to park before letting the next group in.  Anyway, we were happy to be moving and finally parked.  They hay was about 6 inches tall, so I made sure to take a hay fever pill before my arrival.  We packed some water in the backpack, and off we went to enjoy our evening.

Tom Petty music was blasting from the tailgate parties all along our walk.  We had to walk probably a quarter-mile to the ticket corral.  I call it a corral because everyone feels like cattle there.  Twenty thousand people have to fit through narrow ticket gates and then move down narrow walkways to the seating area below.

Finally, we arrived inside the bowl.  We first decided to grab a beer, since we were about 2 hours early.  In the beer line, some guy yelled, “Dude, the Double-Double is fu#&in’ awesome!”  He saw that P had an In-N-Out burger t-shirt on that he purchased in California.  The guy apologized for swearing, but went on to say how much he loved In-N-Out burgers.  We laughed and agreed they were the best.  We then paid $12.00 for two Pyramid ales, only to realize they came in smaller cups than the cheaper Coors beer!

We sat on the sloping lawn and watched the people.  There were about six decades of people there.  I saw ten-year-olds with their parents, teenagers, college students, 30-somethings like us, on up to 60-ish.  We saw the rare 60’s dudes: long, gray-haired, burnt out hippie-types, with tie-died shirts, pot bellies (and heads) with skinny legs and arms.  Only a few remaining, we figured.  We saw many a man who should not be shirtless.  Most tried to suck in their guts, which only made them look even more ridiculous, as it made their man-breasts stick out farther and their butts protrude.  Women were equally revealing and not in an attractive way.  It was so hot, though, no one seemed to care.

P went back for another round of beer and food.  I wasn’t really hungry, just hot.  I kept guzzling my water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated.  We hit the Honey Buckets before going down to our seats to catch The Wallflowers.

We timed it just right; we moved forward to the front of the stage just as Jakob Dylan walked on.  It was exciting to see him up close.  We then sauntered over to our 25th row.  Unfortunately, we were right in the middle of the row, which meant getting out to go to the bathroom was going to be a chore.  On our way to our row, P was again accosted because of his shirt.  The man yelled, “You mean, you went all the way to California and you didn’t bring me one (meaning a burger) back?”  I thought he was going to hit P from the look on his face!  Then P made the mistake of teasing him by saying, “Well, there’s always Dick’s (a local burger joint).”  Offended, the man yelled,  “Don’t even make that comparison!  Dick’s will never come close to In-N-Out!  They’re the best hamburgers I’ve ever had!”  We laughed, agreed, and moved on toward our seats.

We sat while The Wallflowers ran through a short set, mostly off their first album, Bringing Down the Horse and a couple of songs off their new album, Breach.  Favorite songs included: “Sixth Avenue Heartache,” “Three Marlenas,” and “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls,” and he also covered David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which I believe he recorded for a movie soundtrack.  I enjoyed his version of that song; it sounded great on the big stage.  I felt kind of sorry for Jakob, though, because when he came on stage at 7:00 sharp, hardly anyone was in the reserved section, and there were hundreds of people milling around in the general admission/lawn seating area.  Finally, more people showed up and sat down.  He then said, “I can’t believe you guys drove all this way only to sit down at the concert.  You make me feel bad!  Please, stand up!”  So, most people got off their butts and stood.  I didn’t really want to stand, because I knew I would be standing through the entire length of Tom’s show.  We did, though, and enjoyed the music.

As soon as The Wallflowers’ set was over, we made the decision to hit the buckets once more.  We had to plow through the mess of people in our row to get to the hill.  We ended up back in the beer garden where the lines weren’t so long, and got back to our seats about 10 minutes before the lights dimmed.  There was a low roar, then an explosive cheer as Tom and the Heartbreakers entered from the right.

They immediately picked up their instruments and dove right into “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” from the Full Moon Fever album.  This got everyone on their feet.  He kept the pace going with “I Won’t Back Down,” and everyone sang along.  It was so much fun; of course, all the die-hard Petty fans knew all the words.  Then he played “Breakdown,” and he ad-libbed as the audience clapped along.  “Billy the Kid” from Echo was next.  He surprised me by playing two songs from Damn the Torpedoes:  “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even the Losers,” two of my absolute favorite songs.

The set list also included: Too Much Ain’t Enough/It’s Good to be King/You Don’t Know How it Feels/Guitar Boogie Shuffle/Don’t Come Around Here/Red Rooster/Swingin’ Doors/Walls- from the movie, She’s the One/Mary Jane’s Last Dance/You Wreck Me

He was supposed to do some new songs for an upcoming album, but instead he played an old rockabilly number that Tom said he found in one of the Heartbreakers’ garage entitled “Guitar Boogie.”  He also did a country number from Merle Haggard that sounded great.  He did a blues song, really showing their range of genres.
The encore included “Free Fallin’” and another fan fave, “American Girl.”

What can I say, Tom is awesome.  His show was high-energy entertainment.  Everyone knew the words, everyone sang along or clapped, sending energy right back to the stage.  Tom wore a bright blue jacket with brocaded pearls and sequins that sparkled in the lights. He had to remove that from the heat just a couple of songs into the set.  He had on a black vest with a long-sleeved, white, loose-fitting shirt and an old-fashioned striped tie, that was tied loosely at his neck.  He had faded blue jeans and old suede tennis shoes.  His hair was shorter than that on a recent VH-1 show, about chin length.  He sported a beard, which actually looked good on him, except it is almost all white now. The other guys looked ok, but also looked a little old and tired by the end of the night.  I don’t think Mike Campbell cracked a smile all night.  Tom did, though.  He kept stopping and thanking us for being there, told us he has the best band backing him up-they’d been together 25 years (I felt really old), and even at the end said, “God bless you!”  He just seemed so excited and energized by the crowd.  He was really good about talking and playing to all parts of the audience, left right, and even shined the lights on the crowd up in the lawn.  He said to them, “Hey, has anyone up there fallen in love tonight?”

I will see Tom again, some day.

September 5, 2010 Posted by | 2001, Jakob Dylan, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Wallflowers, Tom Petty | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers May 5, 1995

This was a most memorable concert and one of the few I documented from the nineties. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The Gorge Amphitheatre

May 5, 1995

My thirtieth year is turning out pretty well.   Once again I attended a concert and renewed my youth.  I bought the tickets back in February after watching VH1 advertise a chance to buy tickets in advance to any Petty concert in the country.  I decided to call and give it a try [I don’t think online tickets were even invented yet!].  I knew our friends in Sunnyside would love to go, so I bought four tickets.  As it turned out, our friend’s brother and sister-in-law were also planning on going.  We met at their house in Sunnyside on Friday.  The concert didn’t start until 8:30, so we had plenty of time to chat and relax before driving the hour or so to the Gorge. 

The concert was sold out!  We had seats in the 25th row.  I wanted  to take binoculars, but as it turned out, we were fairly close and near the middle of the stage. 

We ended up leaving fairly late.  By the time we slowly drove to the grassy parking lot, the sun was almost down.  We missed the opening band, The Jayhawks [now kicking self].  None of us had heard of them anyway, so it was no big loss [kicking self again as I write this in 2010]. 

We sat in the car a while and had some beer.  Unfortunately, they bought some “good” beer without screw caps and we did not bring a bottle opener.  We had to ask our neighbors in the car next to ours.  It was our friend’s wife’s duty, since, she was closest.  She was slightly buzzed, but she used her very courteous voice as she asked, “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help but notice you were drinking Guinness, and that you would need a bottle opener to drink them.  We are without one ourselves…we were wondering if we could borrow yours?”  Out came the Swiss Army knife, passed through the car windows! 

We sat there for a while longer, then grabbed our packs of rain gear and warm clothes, one last beer, and started the trek toward the gate.  We had close to a quarter of a mile to go from the car to the seats.  When we reached the gate, we were herded through like drunken cattle.  Hundreds of us had to squeeze though a small gate, and were then searched and patted down, one by one.  We didn’t bring anything with us except pop and lots of warm clothes.  There were rumors there would be thunderstorms that night.  I couldn’t imagine how miserable it would be if it rained.  We lucked out…it was windy and overcast, but quite warm, and it never rained.

It was barely light when we arrived in the main part of the amphitheatre, but there must have been 20,000 people there!  The amphitheatre is made of terraced rock/cement and grass and extends up to the sky.  It was a wall of people.  Down below somewhere, were our seats (folding chairs), which were on the “floor”.  We had no chance in hell of finding our friend’s brother; they had lawn seating.

The first thing we did was hit the Honey Buckets.  There were about 10 people waiting in front of each one.  People became impatient and started shouting at the people going in.  They would say things like, “Go, Purple Hat Guy!” and “Go, Blond Woman!”  There were cheers when they exited. 

Anyway, we went to find our seats among the throngs of people.  I picked up a t-shirt along the way for 25 bucks [Wildflowers]; a rip-off, but I needed a souvenir.  We got to our row, but our friend’s seats were not there!  The stupid employees miscounted the seats and came up two short.  We yelled at every security guard and employee there to try to figure out where our friends were going to sit.  Unfortunately, they were all about 20 years old and they had no idea how to solve the problem.  Finally, one person brought us two extra chairs, but we had no place to put them.  If we put them on the end of the row, we would be blocking the aisle.  We stood around for about 20 minutes, then ended up just using one of the chairs and standing.  We ended up standing the entire show, so it didn’t matter too much.

About 10 minutes later Tom and the Heartbreakers entered the stage!  The massive crowd cheered.  He opened with a song from Hard Promises…The Waiting, then Running Down a Dream from Full Moon Fever, and You Don’t Know How It Feels off the new Wildflowers album.   The crowd was really receptive of the new material.  Also played: You Wrecked Me,/Refugee/It’s Good to be King/Listen to Her Heart/Mary Jane’s Last Dance/Free Fallin’/ Honey Bee/Time to Move On/American Girl/Alright for Now and then some new ones, not yet recorded: a little ditty about girls he had who did drugs and other substances (ex: I had a girl who drank coffee/I couldn’t get her off me), a song about Georgia with great guitar licks from Mike Campbell.  I remember one part of the chorus about the peaches hangin’ from the tree, with his own limbs outstretched.  I also sang a cover of I Just Wanna Make…Love to You.  They sounded excellent!  The choice of music wasn’t my favorite; I would have preferred more old stuff, but the whole reason for this concert was to promote his newest album.  Still, it was a great concert.

Tom sported a beard and a brown blazer with a denim shirt and jeans.  He wore a cool silver-buckled belt that he wore over the shirt.  The rest of the band wore mainly black. 

After a few songs, P and I headed to the bathrooms.  After the long trek, we headed down to the gate near the front of the stage, on the right side.  We had to prove that we had our reserved tickets by showing the security guard our stubs.  We loitered about near the right side of the stage for a while, mainly because the mass of humanity was blocking us from getting back to our seats.  We had an excellent view of Tom, and at one point he walked over to our side!  He smiled our way, so I waved.  Cool!  I think he looked right at me!  Extra Cool!  I’ve been waiting since 1979 to see him, and this made it all worth it!  We finally shoved and pushed our way through the crowd standing in the aisle and made it back to our seats to enjoy the rest of the show.

During the encore, when he played Alright for Now,  our friends wanted to head back to the car.  I pouted and said we should try to get closer to the front of the stage instead.  Many people left before he came back to do the encore, so there was more room.  They agreed, so again we got down pretty close to the stage.  It was great!  I didn’t care one bit about having to fight the crowds after the show.  It was worth it.

On the way out, we got in the usual human and car traffic jam.  Some guy was selling home-made Tom t-shirts.  He was walking between the cars that were stuck.  We couldn’t resist, and bought one for eight bucks!

I am so glad I made the decision to buy those tickets. 

[Little did I know, I was about one month pregnant at that time.  I told my son he’s been to a Tom Petty concert!]

August 17, 2010 Posted by | 1995, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , | Leave a comment

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Gorge 06.12.10



Tom Petty at the Gorge 6.12.10

The beautiful evening came and went.   Tom and the Heartbreakers played another amazing show with lots of new stuff from MOJO, old favorites, and a few surprises.   If I could only just focus on the show, and not some of the negativity that happened before, during and after, I would feel better about writing this. 

I decided to delete most of the bitching here and write directly to the Greed Machine, a.k.a. Ticketmaster, Tom Petty’s site (where they have concert reviews submitted by fans who attended the show) and LiveNation. 

We sent Boy to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and sent our very excited dog to his sitter.  Off we went, packed like the Joads. 

I always breathe a big sigh of relief when I get over the pass.  I feel claustrophobic on the Western side of the state.  It’s been cloudy nine months straight.  I feel like a big grey blanket is hanging over my head.  As soon as we hit Cle Elum, the bright blue sky opened up.  The little puffy, white clouds dotted across the vast blue canvas reminded us of the opener to The Simpsons. 

We stopped in Cle Elum for some good lunch at the the local Mexican restaurant, Los Cabos.  We then hit Safeway for some dinner food and campground snacks.

The rest of the drive was relaxing and very enjoyable.  We loved watching the temperature gauge of the truck rise to 83 degress as we drove through Vantage and across the massive bridge over the Columbia River.  The desert air does me good.

Cave B

Cave B Grounds

Cave B Tasting Room

As we neared George, we decided to take a side trip to Cave B Winery.  It is located just left of the Gorge entrance.  There is a nice tasting room and patio area, as well as a beautiful courtyard adorned with grape vines.  It sits right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Columbia.  There is a small hotel and restaurant, and rooms are built right into the cliffside, partially underground.  We wanted to get a room there, but they are booked well in advance.  Instead, we purchased a couple of wine glasses and did some tasting.  I would recommend the riesling.  There were other whites that were equally delicious and sweet.  The reds were dry and velvety. 

We wanted to walk down to the hotel (I had a fantasy that we’d walk in and see Tom and the boys hanging out in the lobby – yeah, right!), but thought we’d better get to the Gorge and set up the truck.  We went all White Trash on this trip.  We brought our Explorer, a foam mattress, a ripped sheet for curtains, and a tent fly for shade attached to the hatchback.  It actually works pretty well!  It’s a little quieter sleeping in the truck than in a tent.  Someday, we’ll get the ’63 Bus fixed and roll it out to the Gorge. 

We arrived at the line for camping around 2:30.  We didn’t get to our campsite until 3:30.  Hence, the bitching.  I could understand if it were 6:00 and the last-minute crowds arriving.  We were not happy campers by the time we parked the truck.  We were thankful we were no longer in line, though, and quickly set up camp along a little fence overlooking the rest of the camp area.  We relaxed in our low canvas chairs for a bit before making delicious, icy mojitos with mint from our garden.  We also enjoyed sandwiches with a Cuban mustard sauce we purchased at Cave B.   After lots of water and some more food, we started packing for our treck to the amphitheatre. 

View from Campsite

We could still see people arriving on the road at 5:30, stranded in a long line of cars and trucks.  Not good.  They would not get to the show on time, guaranteed. 

We took a shuttle bus that dropped us off about 100 yards or so from the main ticket entrance.  I’m glad we took the bus this time, as it is at least 1/2 mile walk down to the entrance to the amphitheatre.  It’s pretty dusty, and one feels like cattle after awhile.  We again arrived at a standstill.  There were no lines formed; just mass humanity, hundreds of people just stopped.  We stood and shuffled forward toward the ticket entrance for about an hour in the sun.  It’s never been that bad in our 15+ years of coming to the Gorge.  Once at the gate, we made it through quickly with no other problems.  And no one peed or barfed on us, so we felt lucky.

By now, though, it was 8:00.  Joe Cocker was supposed to start at 7:30, but apparently they held up the show knowing most of the people were still waiting to get inside!  Right as we started down toward our seats, we heard him start playing.  He began with Leave Your Hat On!  What a sexy song.  He belted it out.  He had a great group of backup singers and a beautiful bass player.  They rocked the show with a short, but sweet set of about 5 songs, including a couple of Beatles covers. 

Joe Cocker

He could scream just like the old days, but looked like life and  food have treated him pretty well (or not, depending on how you look at him!).

 We enjoyed listening to him, but I kept looking at the left side of the stage and wondered how tenth row seats could feel this far back.  Tenth row center is definitely not the same as tenth row far left.  I couldn’t see a giant section of the stage, which worried and angered me.  We paid an egregious amount of money for these seats and there was no explanation or warning on the ticket site about obstructed views.  Again, we were unhappy, but we decided at least we could move in and out of our seats without having to climb over anyone. 

After a fairly brief intermission, the lights dimmed, the sun set, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers burst into their second night with Kings Highway.  I love that song.  I love Mike’s repetitive guitar riff and slide up the octaves at the end of the song.  Ahh, we made it!  We could now just sit back and enjoy the show.  All the annoyances of the afternoon drifted off, and we were ready to just listen, watch, and soak it all in. 

Tom in Blue

Tom was wearing a royal blue velvet blazer, a vest and dark shirt.  He had light jeans and brown boots.  His hair was cut at collar length and he had a beard.  Mike Campell had a dark blue shirt with white ovals on it, which I later realized were little galaxies.  His matching tie had moons, suns and stars on it.  I couldn’t see Benmont or Steve, the drummer;  just Steve’s drumstick and a cymbal.  Ron and Scott were dressed in darker clothes.  I believe Scott had a blazer or suit jacket on.

Here’s the set list, copied from www.tompetty.com



Tom and the boys were so energetic, still so dynamic.  I would get the binoculars out and just watch their interaction with each other, with the crowd.  They would make gestures or raise their eyebrows and smile at each other.  You could tell they have such a strong bond after all these years.  They were genuine; the real deal.  The new music from MOJO was readily accepted, and I can tell a few will become part of their classic hits collection. 

During You Don’t Know How It Feels, Tom would interact with Steve.  On Tom’s cue, Steve would hit the drums hard, stop, hit ’em again.  Tom would “direct” him by throwing his arms out to the side, hold them up, let them drop, and Steve would react with a loud bang.  The crowd would cheer every time.

Free Fallin’ was a nice, slow acoustic rendition.  Tom played his acoustic guitar under one spotlight.  The audience sang along, repeating the lines.  It was beautiful. 

Drivin’ Down to Georgia: I heard that one only once before.  I remember it clearly because it was the first time I’d seen him live, and it was at the Gorge.  It was May 5, 1995, and  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant with my son.  That song was so different, kinda southern bluesy; and I enjoyed watching Tom emulate a peach tree…Georgia peaches hangin’ from the tree. 

 I love the old favorites, but missed some of my personal favorites,  the ones that didn’t get any radio airplay, such as Wild One Forever, It’ll All Work Out, Blue Sunday or No Second Thoughts. 

Wish I had better pics to share.  Just too far away for my little camera this time.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , , | Leave a comment

Ode to Tom

Tom Petty

Tom Petty at the Troubadour May 2, 2008

O, Tom. Why do I love him so? So many reasons. Tom was my first. My first album I ever purchased. Damn the Torpedoes. The record’s label was misspelled: Torpedos. I would secretly sneak the record onto my sister’s brand new Technics hi-fi stereo when she was at work. Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes. I felt like a teenage loser. Flat-chested, too skinny, gap-toothed, awkward, shy. Tom spoke to me, to my teenage angst. I wanted to be the one he sang about in Here Comes My Girl, the one he watched walk…Uh! I wanted to be a Complex Kid, a Refugee, and feel the Louisiana Rain running down my face. I was in love with his music, his voice, his lyrics, his messages of love and love lost, his songs for the open road. Never dirty, no cuss words, just honest, straightforward, soul-touching storytelling.

Mom called him a Punk. She hated him. What did I see in that punk? He smokes (although I read he is now finally trying to quit), has long hair, not so pretty to look at. I remember a woman telling me, after borrowing my binoculars to view him at the Tacoma Dome show a few years back: “He is an ugly man!” My immediate response was: “But he has a beautiful soul.” His voice, while many find it not very appealing, I find it to be so unique. And his range, at one time, could span two, maybe three octaves. He can sing in a lower register and hit me straight in the soul. Other times, he can scream out rockin’ lyrics way up high in the scale, and I want to scream along, but can‘t hit the notes.
His band, The Heartbreakers, such a perfect accompaniment to his words. And that guitar. So unique, now so recognizable of the Great Mike Campbell. Mike also helped write some of the songs. And Benmont Tench on keys. Not many bands in the late 70’s were tickling the keys, especially the way Benmont could play. Stan Lynch on drums…no longer with the band, but check out Here Comes My Girl for a great intro in typical Lynch style. Ron Blair, original bass, later replaced with the late Howie Epstein. Now Ron’s back again, keeping the Heartbeat going.
It was hard for the Seattle radio stations to know what to do with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, so they stuck ‘em on the New Wave station. Hard to categorize, hard to fit into a radio-friendly genre. Some of the songs did play on the rock stations: American Girl, Breakdown. Were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rock? Mostly. Were they southern rock? Sure. Were they new? Different? Talented? Unusual? Better than anything out there in the latter half of the seventies? Definitely.
Eight days to go…
[The following link is an excerpt from Damn the Torpedoes DVD]


June 4, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, Tom Petty | , , , | 3 Comments