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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Stevie Nicks and Eddie Vedder, thrill rowdy White River crowd
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Stevie Nicks and Eddie Vedder, thrill rowdy White River crowd
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ special guests Stevie Nicks and Eddy Vedder
July 30 @ White River Amphitheatre

As long as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keep rocking, we'll keep listening.

The veteran rock group celebrated thirty years as a recording artist and touring act at White River Amphitheatre Sunday night in front of a massive, highly energized audience.

Dressed in black velvet trousers and matching blazer with silver flecks, Petty and company opened with "Listen to Her Heart" from 1978's rarely mentioned You're Going to Get It! album and "You Don't Know How It Feels", off 1994's Wildflowers release. A pair of well-known favorites came next, "I Won't Back Down" and "Free Fallin'", which fired up the crowd even more. Everywhere you looked people were dancing, jumping, raising their arms and fists, singing, and taking strong puffs from their private stash of goodies. Speaking of, "Mary Jane's Last Dance" was accompanied by a huge sing-along and a sea of lighters flickering throughout the venue.

Petty introduced only two songs from his week-old solo recording Highway Companion, "Saving Grace" and the wonderful "Square One", sticking with more familiar tunes instead for his set list.

Delivering on a promise that the night would be full of fun, Petty surprised us by ushering out Stevie Nicks, introduced as an honorary Heartbreaker. Concertgoers went nuts at the sight of the rock queen, decked out in rhinestone-studded boots, ankle-length dress and her trademark shawl. Her microphone was bejeweled with sparkly beads and her raspy-thick vocals were in perfect form. Together, Petty and Nicks brought the house down reuniting on the classic "Stop Dragging My Heart Around". I'm a die-hard Stevie Nicks fan dating back to my pre-pubescent years, so I exploded in delight from hearing this song performed live by its original hit makers. Nicks stayed for a second number, "I Need to Know, belting out the lyrics and shaking a tambourine.

Another unannounced guest was local rocker Eddie Vedder, who drew a huge eruption of cheers from the near-capacity audience. The Pearl Jam frontman collaborated with Petty on "The Waiting", which began too growl-y as a result of Vedder's grunge-heavy pipes. But he relaxed midway into it and turned it into a whopper of a duet down the homestretch. These days, Vedder is a sight to behold. He's back in shape, taking good care of himself and looking as hot as he did when his band first came into popularity in the early 90s.

Nicks returned to the stage, which was flooded with overhead lights and four perched LCD screens, joining Petty and the Heartbreakers on "Insider", a tune from 1981's Hard Promises that Petty said he'd always wanted to play in concert. In true Nicks form, a change of shawls was made in between appearances. A flawless, soft acoustic version of "Learning to Fly" featured Nicks on backup vocals. The main set came to a close with three extremely popular hits, "Don't Come Around Here No More", "Refugee" and a fast and fierce rendition of "Runnin' Down a Dream".

Returning for an encore, Petty and the Heartbreakers made their final exit with "You Wreck Me", "Mystic Eyes" and "American Girl".

Having seen Petty on four occasions, I must say this performance was his absolute best. He sounded fresh and interacted a lot with the crowd. He was giddy and playful, even busting out some slick dance moves. It's as if he's gone through a reinvention. If there's a message to be sent out from Sunday night's concert by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, it's simply that after thirty years of rocking and rolling the best is yet to come.

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