Monday, April 14, 2008

REVIEW: Tom Petty and Mudcrutch at the Santa Cruz Civic

So, I guess you CAN go home again.

That's how it seemed Monday, as Tom Petty reformed Mudcrutch, the Gainesville, Florida high school band he started 38 years ago-- and left five years later for the lights of LA--and brought them to Santa Cruz on the second night of a two-week tour of California.

"You've come to the right place if you're looking for some good old hippie music," Petty told the sold-out house, as if people in Santa Cruz are looking for much else.

The two-hour show was an excellent mix of rock stardom, and down home fun, filled with covers and songs from the album the band recorded last year (due April 29).

The thing that made it great was what made last week's Bruce Springsteen show such a revelation: Petty seemed to be more out to have fun and play music than to worry about fancy stage sets or rock star trappings.

The setlist was rich in lovingly picked covers including two Dylan songs, ''Rainy Day Woman #12&35," during which the audience exploded for the "Everybody must get stoned" chorus; and "Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I'll Go Mine)," once a stormy set opener for Dylan and the Band. Not to mention Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road' and bluegrass great Bill Monroe's "Love, Please Come Home."

If Petty was rediscovering his high school roots, there was a great irony there thinking that years after he covered those songs, he played them onstage with Dylan on tour, and recorded with Dylan in the Traveling Wilbury's.

But maybe this was less about Petty's journey through the past, then his former bandmates getting a chance to share in the rock and roll future they missed. Three Heartbreakers, including Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench were joined by old Mudcrutch members, Tom Leadon on guitar and vocals (he's former Eagle Bernie Leadon's brother) and drummer, and drum teacher, Randall Marsh.

The band opened with an unlikely traditional ballad, "Shady Grove" and ended 18 songs later with an old rocker, "High School Confidential."

In between highlights included a ripping version of the Byrds' "Lover of the Bayeau," where the double guitar attack by Leadon and Campbell really showed why Petty, on bass, is fired up to stand between the duo.

The other great song of the night was a long jam on "Crystal River," a wonderful spacey number that caught all the best things about the sixties long form jams. Inspiration shot off the players like sparks.

Some of the Leadon country rock tunes were leaden, but his guitar playing, wilder and looser than Campbell's, made for a dynamic duo.

Yeah, it was a little tough hearing a night of Petty with no old Petty songs.

But it was also historic, seeing the first regular priced show of a tour (they played a Malibu benefit Saturday) by a band that members say they want to keep together as a regular entity, not just a one-off.

Sometimes the biggest moments in rock history come from the least expected shows. Who else has reformed a high school band 38 years later and made it work? I suspect Petty fans will be talking about this one for a long time.

“Shady Groove”
“Orphan of the Storm”
“Six Days on the Road”
“Scare Easy”
“Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)”
“This is a Good Street”
“Lover of the Bayou”
“Queen of the Go Go Girls”
“Oh Maria”
“Topanga Cowgirl”
“The Wrong Thing to Do”
“Bootleg Flyer”
“June Apple”
“House of Stone”
“Love Please Come Home”
“Crystal River”
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″
“Summertime Blues”
“High School Confidential”


Shay Q. said...

Hey, Brad. That was fun, eh? Sorry I didn't run nito you.

SeaFloor said...

Nice job! Great show too!