Saturday, August 27, 2005

It's Still Rock 'n Roll to Me

I was talked into this. I didn't want to go. But it was a chance to see Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers, one of the last true American bands.

George had given me his Tom Petty two-CD set to listen to to prepare. He likes to put the CD's in his car and blast them throughout his commute so that he's ready for the concert. I listened to the CD, yes, but only the songs I liked. I didn't have time for the other 30 songs! Petty has certainly produced an incredible number of tunes over the last two decades. Then there's his Traveling Wilbury stuff. It just goes on and on.

George, Pamela, Scott, and I were sitting on the very uncomfortable bleacher seats at the Greek Theatre on the UC Berkeley campus, when Jamie and his friend Dan showed up and threaded their way into the row, looking for their seats. The opening act, the Black Crowes, were just at the end of their set and the sun hadn't even gone behind the facade yet.

Jamie was surprised to see me. Since I offered him two seats, he thought I had given him my ticket. Naw, they were George's tickets that his wife and his other daughter couldn't use, and he had given them to Rick, who....sheesh, never mind. Anyway, two free tickets went to UCSC Santa Cruz, and the two banana slugs invaded UC Berkeley territory.

So I found myself sitting on concrete seats that were small and getting smaller as we all tried to squeeze our butts together on this ungiving slab. I believe there were kids sitting there who had grass tickets, but who really knows. There were no real ushers. I think the girl next to me stood up most of the time, just to avoid having her butt squeezed into a size 3. The right side of her body obscured the left side of the stage in my vision, but I decided I could live with that.

Uncomfortable seats, but a great view from almost the last row of assigned seats. Tom Petty really performed like the professional he is. I knew perhaps 5 songs but I enjoyed the songs I didn't know, a tribute to his penchant for writing songs that are immediately hummable and catchy, often with terrific, soulful lyrics. And I got to watch an excited George jump up and down when Petty started doing the song George had awaited -- I've forgotten the name -- but it was a driving, pounding song that I imagined assisted George in driving to work.

The average age of the audience was about 25, and I wondered how these kids even knew about Tom Petty. He was on the fringe of my consciousness, to be sure, and I only found out about him through adeptly performed cover songs by the likes of Linda Ronstadt. These cover songs didn't have the plaintive wailing of his whining voice, a quality that actually adds to something like "Live like a Refugee," my personal favorite. And the two types of cigarette smoke wafting back into my area (and lit up by the spotlights) seemed to be coming from people who were my contemporaries.

I'm glad I didn't even have a taste of alcohol. We had to carefully walk over the litter of plastic bottles all over the stadium in order to find the narrow passageway out. And then down steep stairs to get to the street which would lead me to my parking area.

Great time, bad venue. Love the music, hate the Greek.

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