Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have gotten rave reviews from the Boston critics for their Aug. 30 Fenway Park show — and I can vouch for the fact that it was an awesome performance. But I can’t help but wonder how reviews would read if the critics were placed in the upper decks among the rabble. Maybe something like this:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers turned in a masterful performance on two big video screens at Fenway Park in Boston last Saturday. The actual human Tom Petty was probably also there, although it was hard to tell him apart from the other people wandering around the tremendous stage in centerfield.
It was worth the crick I got in my neck to keep my head turned toward the centerfield screens, even though my seat faced directly toward third base. Mr. Petty told the Boston crowd that Fenway was a wonderful venue, and I’m sure from his vantage point it certainly was.
Also stellar were the conversations from the concert goers in my section of the park throughout the show, on topics ranging from kids’ college choices to plans for the remainder of the weekend. One group of people near me did a great job catching up on old times at the top of their lungs during Mr. Petty’s rendition of the subtly beautiful and rarely played ballad “Angel Dream (No. 2).” It was hard to tell what Mr. Petty was singing over their conversations, but I have a feeling he did a fine job.
The show wasn’t perfect, of course: I do have to take issue with the knowledge of Mr. Petty’s catalog on the part of the woman in the row behind me, who declared loudly that every song she didn’t know “must be from the new album,” including “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” from the band’s 1981 album “Hard Promises.”
“I like his old songs,” she yelled to her companion, or possibly to no one in particular, at several key junctures during the show, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I’d advise her to bone up on Mr. Petty’s pre-1990 output before she screams and yells through her next show.
But that’s just a quibble when there was so much to enjoy. For instance, the way the couple next to me managed to retain almost full bodily contact during almost the entirety of the performance was masterful, even if it meant having to bump into me every five or ten minutes while trying to retain lip junction. And the iPhone placement of the women in front of me was extremely well executed, even if it resulted primarily in photos of blurry darkened specks.
Combine that with the amazing number of beers bought and consumed by members of the crowd — who managed to negotiate Fenway Park’s narrow rows and the large people inhabiting them while doing so — and you have a night of music that won’t soon be forgotten.
Opening the show was Steve Winwood, the music legend known for his work in the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith, along with his solo outings. Everyone was still trying to get to their seats and get beer and have one last pee while he was playing, so it’s hard to say if his performance on the video screens was any good, but it probably was.