Back in 1981 Tom Petty scored a hit with "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," a duet with Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac.
Wednesday night, Petty and his band The Heartbreakers were at Glendale Arena, and he played "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," but not before introducing the "one and only honorary Heartbreaker, Stevie Nicks."
Valley resident Nicks, decked out in her trademark black flowing gypsy garb, hit the stage to thunderous applause, and the band ripped into the tune. Nicks stuck around to sing lead vocals on the early Petty single "I Need to Know" and the rarely played 1981 duet "Insider," which Petty told the estimated 15,000-plus crowd he wrote for Nicks.
What was not a surprise Wednesday was how sharp Petty and The Heartbreakers were.
"I love Tom Petty," said Kary Ketcher, 26, of Tempe, who was seeing Petty for the first time. "I've been a fan ever since I can remember -- he's just a solid rocker."
And Petty and The Heartbreakers indeed rocked the house, opening with the 1978 12-string guitar-propelled hit "Listen To Her Heart" before slinking into the '90s rocker "Mary Jane's Last Dance," the enthusiastic crowd singing along word for word.
During his 1989 hit "Free Fallin,'" Petty, dapperly dressed in a suit, barely had to sing a word, holding the mic out to the crowd, who to ably filled in the words.
Other highlights from the two-hour set included a cover of a pre-Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac tune, "Oh Well"; Petty's Traveling Wilbury's hit "Handle With Care"; "Running Down a Dream"; a stomping blues tune tune from "Highway Companion," Petty latest album, called "Saving Grace"; "Learning to Fly"; "Don't Come Arounbd Here No More"; Refugee"; and "You Wreck Me."
Valley musicians in the crowd included Sand Rubies guitarist Rich Hopkins, who drove up from his home in Tucson to catch the show; Pistoleros singer/guitarist Mark Zubia, a longtime Tom Petty fan; Loveblisters manager and soundman for Tempe music venue Last Exit Bar and Grill Jack Maverick; and ex-Feedbags singer/songwriter Jim Swafford.
"I don't trust anybody who doesn't like Tom Petty," said Maverick, 24, who was born five years after Petty's debut album. "There is a genuineness in Tom Petty that other artists don't possess, and I find people that don't pick up on that suspect at best. When you have songs that great, it's hard to mess with perfection, and people that can't see that are probably listening to music for the wrong reasons."
John Mayer opened the show, and anybody thinking the young singer/songwriter was just a pop flash in the pan was in for a surprise as Mayer, who proved himself to be a tremendous guitarist, and his seven-piece band tore through tunes such as "Good Love is on the Way," from Mayer's blues trio experiment .
Contact Chris Hansen Orf by email, or phone (480) 898-5684