I love Tom Petty, with or without mushrooms. Everybody knows I love Tom Petty, or at least everybody who reads the Weekly knows I love Tom Petty, because I've proclaimed my love in print for Tom Petty at every conceivable fork in the road (his 2006 show at White River ranks among the very best concerts I've ever witnessed). I'll love Tom Petty until the day I die; and if I die before Tom Petty -- doubtful -- hopefully he'll love me. But there is a small cadre of rock snobs out there who think Tom Petty is a poor man's Dylan. And unfortunately, this weekend's Petty doubleheader at the Gorge would have been this silent minority's cup of tea.
Petty's first show (Friday night) was pretty cool. He played the hits -- "Breakdown," "Learning to Fly," "Last Dance With Mary Jane," et. al. His and the Heartbreakers' onstage lights were situated in such a way that if you were on something stronger than beer, you would have loved it (and I did); the apparatus looked like the skeletal outlining of a longhorn, with liquid drops of light dripping down it. Yet it was an unspectacular show in that there were no surprises. But hey, that's cool, because that's what second shows are for, right? Wrong.
Saturday night's show was a virtual carbon copy of the first, save for the insertion of "Even the Losers" and "Face in the Crowd." This is a band that's been together for about 40 years now. They should know that half their audience has seen the previous show, and drove a long fucking way to see it in the face of hundred degree desert heat. To mimic the prior night's enjoyment -- right down to opening both shows with "You Wreck Me" -- is either arrogant, lazy, or both. And bringing Steve Winwood onstage four songs in for a half-hour interlude, which Petty did on Friday after the crowd has suffered through the opener's hackneyed blue-eyed soul for an hour, is just cruel. Tom: If you're going to mail shows in like this now that you've gotten your due, don't come around here no more. But hopefully for those of us who love you, you will -- and you'll carry more than a putter in your bag next time.
Postscript: There was a freedom-lover from Idaho camped next to us at Wild Horse. His credo: "Do what you want in life, 'cause if you don't, you won't." Think on that.