Hundreds of pictures of the artists who have graced the stage of Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville, IN line the backstage wall, serving as a constant reminder of the incredible history of the amphitheatre known best by its former name, Deer Creek. Perhaps the most infamous night here was in July 1995 when thousands of fans crashed the gates to get into a Grateful Dead concert, birthing the ubiquitous "Gatecrashers Suck" stickers.
No one crashed the gates on Saturday, though the 24,000-capacity amphitheatre was stretched to its absolute limit for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' triumphant return to the Hoosier State for first show of the second leg of the Mojo Summer 2010 tour. Though rain welcomed the band for their last two appearances here, the stormy weather held off and fans were treated to a gorgeous summer day for tailgating before the Drive-By Truckers took the stage as the sun dipped below the horizon. The Truckers welcomed David Hood, an original Muscle Shoals Swamper and father to lead singer Patterson Hood, to sit in for the Staples Singers' "Respect Yourself," a song the elder Hood played bass on for the original recording. Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers could be seen standing sidestage watching with a wide grin.
From the opening notes of "Listen to Her Heart," it was clear Indiana was ready for Tom and The Heartbreakers. Mike Campbell's piercing guitar riff led a defiant "I Won't Back Down," but the highlight was "Mary Jane's Last Dance," with the massive crowd rising up to meet Tom's vocals as he sang, "She grew up in an Indiana town/Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around/But she grew up tall and she grew up right/With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights." Doesn't get much better than that. The second leg of the tour is off to a fantastic start. We'll see you in Kansas City on Tuesday!