By Tom Siebert
Tom Petty donned a Cubs jersey prior to his encore at Wrigley Field during the Chicago leg of his 50-city tour.
The number on the back of the shirt, 40, signified the four decades during which he and his brilliant band, the Heartbreakers, have been recording songs and hitting the stages.
The sold-out, rain-soaked concert before nearly 40,000 fans featured an American songbook of classic rock par excellence.
“Let’s sing one together!” Petty shouted out to the adoring crowd before he and his band broke into a blistering rendition of “I Won’t Back Down,” from his multi-hit, 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever.
Perhaps the iconic singer/songwriter was not aware that most of the fans had already been singing along with such favorites as “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “You Got Lucky.” In fact the crowd drowned out the powerful stadium sound system during Petty’s acoustic version of his 1991 hit “Learning to Fly.”
It is a testament to Petty’s authentic connection to his avid listeners that many of them knew not only the choruses but the complete lyrics to several of the 19 songs played over two and a half hours.
“We came here first in 1977, and fell in love with the town,” he said before the band performed “American Girl,” their last song of an epic evening. “Thank you so much for coming for 40 years.”
The sentiment was sincere, just like his music.
Wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey, Petty performs his classic song “American Girl.”
The Heartbreakers’ lead guitarist Mike Campbell trades licks with front man Petty.