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THE BEST OF THE PETTY DVDs
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.