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on February 1, 2005
I have seen Tom Petty and the boys live many times and I'm a naturalist fan - that is, I don't just like the hits and often feel the overlooked stuff is better or as good as the standards. Petty and Co. make great albums, but where they shine is live, so when I say this is the best of the live DVDs I am basing that on three things. 1)The accuracy to which it captures a true Heartbreakers show, 2)How many times one would watch/listen to it and 3) should anyone other than Petty die-hards need apply.

First, the performance takes place at the Filmore which is a theatre/club. This does not allow the band to play as they do in arenas, but the whole thing works. There is energy, but also a intimate feel - very nice. It also does what good concert DVDs should do and makes the viewer feel, if not like they are there, at least what it must have been like to be there (to be fair, this is an eassier feat given the club setting vs, say, a stadium). This also reminded me of Petty's hilarious performance on VH1's Storytellers from around the same time. Anything that makes me think of that is aces in my book (if only that were on DVD).

The songs are great and great to hear live. Since there is no recent live Petty album this can double as such. The opening one-two punch of "Jammin' Me" and "Runnin' Down a Dream," kicks ass! This how a show I saw on that tour began and as far as I'm concerned its how every show should begin. And while we're talking about it, this version of "Jammin' Me" is so good it gave me a new found respect for a song that always seemed like an oddity in the Heartbreakers stash. Don't get me wrong, it rocks (love Mike's guitar and the more agressive vocal from Tom), but it doesn't jive well inserted with their hits - chronologicly it falls somewhere between "Don't Come Around Here..." and "Free Fallin'," but its not just that; it feels rather 80s-ish, whereas most of their other singles have more of a timeless feel. But here the tune is loose, loud, and we are having fun watching it because the boys are having fun playing it. We also get great songs from the underrated "Echo," and thank God for some tracks from "She's the One." There is something of a lull just before the encores where they play at least one too many slow songs in a row, but they soon ralley for a set of rockers, including a harder "You Wreck Me."

There are of course too many Petty Hits to fully include them all here so some may be bummed their favorite song didn't make the cut, but that alomst goes without saying for any long-running act at a live show; that's the way it goes, but what is here is all done so well, the set feels complete.

Second, I have had this since it came out in fall of '99. I'm writing the review now because I am watching it again, as I do often. It doesn't get old and DVD is great cause you can jump right to the "Jammin' Me's" and the "Mary Jane's" of the set. I use it as much as a live album to listen to as I do a concert to watch. I wish it were available on CD.

And thirdly, fans, and I obviously am one, won't be disapointed; and non-fans may just be converted. The guys had their A-Game on this night.

I have seen some reviews complaining about the filming; cuts, shakiness, etc... I may have comented on that myself way back when, but I honestly haven't thought twice about it. In my opinion its neither a plus or a minus.

The other Petty DVDs are good as well, but this is the only one that depicts a typical live show. The Soundstage one is filled with covers and light on Heartbreakers hits (which isn't a bad thing, I rather enjoy hearing some of that stuff, but its from PBS so there is a slow, artsy-fartsiness to the whole thing) and "Live at the Olympic" is a run-through of the "Last DJ" album cover to cover with 5 or so bonus past hits at the end as encores. I like "Last DJ," but many didn't. If you are one of those, skip that DVD.

Regardless, this Filmore one would be the one to have anyway. Simply put, It's Great.
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on February 5, 2000
I bought High Grass Dogs because I love Tom Petty and just bought a DVD player. I thought it would be nice to have a little petty to put on and have video to go with it. Wow, was I way underestimating the power of this DVD.
This is an up close and personal filming of the bells, no whistles. No fancy lighting or pyrotechnics. Just the band, the music, and the crowd.
The sound is incredible. it has Dolby Digital 5.1, and with surround the crowd noise is behind you, the music in front of really feels like you're in the front row.
Obviously, I love the DVD...I highly recommend it!
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on December 27, 1999
Tom Petty is one of the best ever. People leave his shows awestruck. A film of a concert should make you feel as if you were there, as part of the audience. It should not make you feel as though your head were a ping pong ball being bounced about at two-second intervals by nine different cameramen, none of whom seem to be able to get a decent view. Why oh why must the filmmakers try to upstage the band when they are making these things? It never, ever works. To the powers that be: Please, please, please release Tom Petty's Pack Up The Plantation film on DVD. It is a wonderful perfomance and a much better film than this one. And next time you get ready to film a concert, watch The Last Waltz to get an idea of how it should be done.
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on February 10, 2003
As someone who has seen Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers live almost a dozen times in various venues, I can say this DVD does a great job of capturing the essence of the band in concert, particularly their shows from the past five years. The most consistent live act I have ever seen, The Heartbreakers are in typically outstanding form in the shows recorded for the DVD. The sound on the DVD is great, and the presentation of the material is well paced. While this DVD is a MUST have for true Tom Petty fans, casual fans will enjoy it as well. For those somewhat familiar with the band's work, the DVD will show them what they have missed if they have not seen the Heartbreakers live.
I love this DVD and am sure I'll watch it a few thousand times, but there were a few things that kept me from giving it 5 stars. First, I would have liked to have seen more focus on Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Their musicianship is a big reason why the Heartbreakers are one of the greatest American bands of all time and head and shoulders above most other bands touring today. Aside from a nice scene of Campbell tearing up the solo on "Running Down a Dream," there are few shots of his work. I found this disappointing since his six string IS the guitar voice of Tom Petty, and anyone who has seen the band live knows what Campbell can do with the instrument and how big a part he plays in the live shows. Second, I think the directing could have been a little less "heavy handed." There's a few "artsy" shots and cut-aways I would have preferred seeing replaced by wide-screen stage shots that would have given the viewer a greater sense of being there. Finally, I would have liked to have seen more "extras" on the DVD. One of the nice things about the format of the DVD is you get material you can't find anywhere else. I would have liked to seen some band interviews, lyrics, behind the scene stuff -- anything else. All the DVD offers is the concert, with the option of choosing songs. I found that surprising since Tom Petty has always been at the cutting edge of music video.
Those shortcomings should not detract anyone from buying this DVD, however. Overall, it is a good look at one of the best bands in the world.
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on July 21, 2001
Petty and his band improves with age. Everytime I buy their newest CD or see Petty and his 'Heartbreakers' in concert I say- these guys are at the top of their game. And 'High Grass Dogs-Live from the Fillmore' is no exception. Captured on the final night of a five night gig at the Fillmore, Petty gets the proceedings off to a rousing start with 'Jammin Me' and 'Runnin' Down a Dream' great songs of course, but let's get the more tired tunes out of the way to make room for the exceptional material from the 'Echo' album. Doing just that Petty intros 'Swingin', which is simply, a rock masterpiece. After that, Petty keeps it easy, casually moving into 'Breakdown', and 'Listen to her Heart'. These guys are having fun- one gets the sense that they are still doing this because they love music, not to throw another million or two into the bank. Petty forges a connection with his audience that is real. Never one to get lost in elaborate sets, props or costumes, you still get the feeling that you are in the middle of a full blown rock concert- with real musicians. But Petty gets to have fun too, hamming it up as he introduces Bo Diddley. They perform 'Mona'- and the aging legend has no problem keeping up with the rest of the band- and the result is glorious. Peppered with footage from a camera filming backstage while the band plays on, the idea is to document the event- not to try and create a mood- it's already there. When a female roadie is asked how the show went- she says simply 'It was a great show- any other questions?' It's a real moment, not scripted. And that's what Petty is. Real.
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on July 30, 2006
This DVD is really amazing, the song selection is perfect and the playing is crazy great. Everyone is awesome in this filming, at the historic Fillmore. THis even features Bo Diddley with the heartbreakers playing mona, one of the best on the DVD. Tom even jokes around some between songs. Please buy this, you wont be dissapointed. THis is pure Rock 'n' Roll.
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on October 27, 2004
let me start by saying that the performance of this concert was great. the band played the songs almost flawlessly. but, like another reviewer said, the shots keep changing so quickly, it gives me a headache. also, the audio and the video are out of synch, so it feels more like you're watching a music video than a real concert, which is a major flaw, because other concert dvd's almost make you feel like you're really there.
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on December 29, 1999
It's too bad this wasn't released as an audio cd or double live album. It really has some terrific songs -- all of Petty's finest -- and a few overlooked or retooled gems. However, the direction of the concert film is slipshod. While the widescreen presentation is nice, there are too many artsy cuts and a tired overuse of extreme closeups of unnecessary scenes. Do I really want to get a gander of Tom's posterior filling the screen? I'd have much rathered some tight, uninterrupted shots of Mike Campbell's fab guitar manipulations or Benmont Tench's killer keyboard work. Instead, there is a distracting, frenetic pace that doesn't let you focus on any one thing too long before it cuts to another. Someone should have told the producers that this wasn't a pop video. A more lingering view of the stage and wider shots of the band going through their excellent setlist would have been far preferable and afforded the viewer a "you are there" sense of belonging. Instead, you get the feeling that you've stumbled on an Oliver Stone attempt at a 90-minute music video. There are good moments: Seeing Bo Diddley on stage with the guys for "Mona" was great fun and Petty did have some lighthearded moments before "Even the Losers." However, this DVD is hamstrung by the visual masturbation of the director. As a diehard Petty fan, I love the sound of this concert film but I can't give it a fifth star. Buy this for the music. That aspect is a five star for sure. The video brings the whole experience down a notch. And that is saying something when discussing the Heartbreakers' ability to mesmerize and enthrall. Keep the TV off and crank the speakers and go about your housework.
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on April 15, 2004
After reading previous reviews of this DVD, I don't see what all the fuss is about! The picture quality is very nice...nothing is out of focus, and the sound is absolutely fantastic! Perhaps those with complaints have a bad or defective copy?
The performance is top notch...great song selection, even though a few of my favorites are missing. Sure, some of the editing is a little weird...I would have rather had the entire concert unedited with no breaks to check out what was happening backstage or views of the Fillmore itself, but for some reason people who direct concerts feel they have to dress the DVD up instead of just giving us the concert itself. (Take, for instance, McCartney's "Back in the US" DVD concert film, which would have been the greatest concert DVD ever if they had just wiped out all of the garbage between the songs.)
This is a nice momento of this concert tour, especially now with the passing of longtime Heartbreaker Howie Epstein. And, Stan Lynch is still missed on the drums--please come back, Stan! But otherwise, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and Scott Thurston continue to deliver. Recommended.
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on November 10, 1999
Aspect ratio was stated as full screen by Amazon. My DVD is in wide-screen. Also, there are no subtitles, as in words to the songs. For those of us that know them, that is fine. For those that don't ? Come on Tom. Give us a DVD from your concert at Pine Knob in June. That was quite honestly the best concert I have ever attended. I stood up for over two hours because everyone, (pavillion or lawn) was up. This was my sixteen year old son's first concert and he came home hoarse. I told him that it was all downhill from here. Come on, Tom. You can do better.
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