Old rockers never die

There’s nothing like a little nostalgia to draw a full house at General Motors Place in Vancouver.

Nostalgia is exactly what draws Tom Petty fans to keep returning to his concerts. I know I’m not the only kid raised on Full Moon Fever or the Traveling Wilburys’ Volume I. Tom Petty has released so many great hits, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of them all.

The June 8 show at GM Place also featured opening act—or first headliner, depending on how you view him—Joe Cocker. Known for his outrageous stage persona back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Cocker has put forth hits like “A Little Help From My Friends” and “Up Where We Belong”. His best performance onstage at the Vancouver show was definitely “You Are So Beautiful”, portraying his incredible vocal talent.

When pondering the possible set list for the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show, it was hard to picture whether it would be old hits to please fans, or it would include mostly new material from Mojo, the still unavailable new album—a streaming version is available for listening at ESPN.com.

Gladly it was a mix of both, leaning heavily towards the former. Listening to Petty belt out the lyrics to “Runnin’ Down a Dream” brought back the days of sifting through the parents’ CD stack, looking for something other than terrible country records. Thankfully Tom Petty, leaning towards the mellower, simpler side of rock and roll, was among them. “Free Fallin’” was the typical sing-and-drive song or campfire anthem, and of course everyone knows “I Won’t Back Down”, Petty’s own mantra after having survived the arson attack on his home.

The Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers concert at GM Place was flawless, and the band seems really tight after having been together for over 30 years. Dreadlocked guitarist Mike Campbell threw out some great tunes as the band reminded audiences that they will remain as one of the best rock acts to ever produce music.

Tom Petty’s lyrics are ridden with his trademarked simplicity, and so is the rest of the music. Everything is easy to remember, catchy and classic. Very few songs are poetic or complicated with riddles. Straight up lyrics have created Petty’s songs into household anthems that pass from generation to generation. The songs are like the Rolling Stones crossed with Bob Dylan. Petty’s recognizable nasally voice soars as this 60-year-old rocker, donned in a white-collared shirt and black leather vest, recalled good old times for his fans, thanking them in the process.

There’s nothing better than going to a packed stadium with everyone standing up and singing the lyrics to all their favourite old songs. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are certainly a band that will go on and be remembered for years to come. This band certainly shows no signs of slowing down.

A listen to the new album Mojo brings back memories of old Tom Petty songs. In particular, “Good Enough” is a great, moody song that sounds both complex and simple at the same time.

This was a memorable concert with insane energy and an amazing band that has not only been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but also as a household standard, a basis by which families can build great musical bonds from.

Have a listen to the new album, due out June 15 and if you get the chance, definitely catch the next tour.

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