Top critical review
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Straight ahead, no-frills good music
on 5 February 2002
If you're looking for big stage sets, pyrotechnics, theatrical backdrops, costume changes, dancing girls or zippy light shows, this concert probably ain't for you. On the other hand, if you're after good music performed superbly by expert musicians before a highly-appreciative audience, then here it is.
Tom & co simply don't care about the visual aspect of their concerts. They seem to take the view that you're here because you love the music. Fair play to them.
It's always worth remembering that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, either collectively or individually, are responsible for some of the most memorable music to emerge over the last 3 decades. Stevie Nicks, Don Henley, Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow and dozens of others have recruited their help. Well, here they all are, lined up behind the ever-charismatic Tom Petty, delivering some of their finest tunes from the last ten years or so.
And that's the best thing - they don't get bogged down playing the old standards that we've all heard a dozen times before. Instead, we hear several tracks from the about-to-be-released Echo album (which underwhelmed the critics, it must be said), reworked acoustic versions of several gems (including a superb version of 'Walls' - much better than the original), and highlights from Wildflowers & Full Moon Fever.
On the down side, the last four or five songs are heads-down rockers, somewhat brainlessly so, and don't represent my favourites by any means. It might have been nice to hear a few tracks from 'Into the Great Wide Open' instead.
A few complaints about the DVD itself - the synchronisation between sound and picture tends to slip out of step periodically, which is probably the most frustrating fault a DVD can have, though it invariably catches up with itself presently. Camera-work is curiously haphazard and jerky (presumably on purpose), and short clips of meaningless backstage activities punctuate throughout, between the songs. Hmmm. For these reasons I've awarded 3 stars instead of 4 it deserved.
Nevertheless, a must have for any Tom Petty devotee. The soundtrack should have been released as a live album too, in my opinion.