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Saratoga Springs, NY 08/27


Aug 27 2010
Saratoga Springs, NY
Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center

Nearly half a century ago, Duane La Fleche proposed in his weekly column in the Albany Times Union that the New York Philharmonic eschew an offer to make its summer residence in Stowe, Vermont and instead set up shop in Saratoga Springs. It seems very wrong,- La Fleche wrote, "that a New York orchestra should have to look outside the State for a summer residence. Wouldn't the State Reservation at Saratoga Springs make a nice location?"

Local civic leaders agreed, selecting Saratoga Spa State Park as the site, and began in earnest to design the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center. In June 1964, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller climbed atop a bulldozer to break ground on the new facility, and for a little more than a year, more than 300 workers clocked 136,000 hours to complete the 5,100-seat, 10-story amphitheatre.

SPAC opened on July 9, 1966, with a presentation of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream by the New York City Ballet. Harry Belafonte was the first pop performer to grace the stage in '67, and the venue has a long history of hosting rock concerts. Pink Floyd performed Dark Side of the Moon here in 1973 just after the 20,000-capacity lawn was added.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers added to the rich history of the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center Friday night, combining with opener Crosby, Stills, and Nash for nearly four hours of rock 'n roll that left the 23,000 in attendance screaming for more. Petty and company obliged, trotting out from backstage for the encore to fanatical cheers before launching into a killer version of "Runnin' Down a Dream." Ever the entertainer, Tom teased the crowd, asking just how loud they could be. The roar from the SPAC faithful was evidence enough that rock music is alive and well in Upstate New York.

We're back at Darien Lake! Come out to the Performing Arts Center and see us, and be sure to check back for more photos, videos and recaps!

Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center
Tour Tracks: 
Jefferson Jericho Blues
Running Man's Bible
I Should Have Known It
Good Enough
American Girl
Oh Well
Listen to Her Heart
Don't Come Around Here No More
Free Fallin'
I Won't Back Down
Mary Jane's Last Dance
Runnin' Down A Dream
Learning To Fly


sameoldme's picture

I've been a TP and the HB's fan since half past forever, and I go see them whenever they perform in the area (NY State Capital District), but their past 2 concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center have been challenging for a fan who is there for the music and not the partying. I had to miss a lot of the 2006 show, because some drunken slob (I think he snuck in)shoved his way into my row and kept yelling and crashing into me so annoyingly, I had to leave after just a few songs. This year I did the VIP thing, and that helped a lot - when you're up close you're better protected - but there were still a lot of problems, as other people here have reported in depth. SPAC's outdoor atmosphere has its charms, and the band seems to enjoy playing there. In fact one of the songs on the bonus disc of "The Live Anthology" - "Don't Come Around Here No More" - is from a SPAC performance, and I like to think the venue brought out a certain magical mojo in the band. But the past 2 times I saw them there, I couldn't help wishing I were seeing and hearing this wonderful band in a more comfortable and convenient setting. Many years ago, TP & the HB's performed the first ever rock concert at the then brand new Knickerbocker Arena in Albany. I believe they played there the next year as well, but lately their area concerts have all been at SPAC. The arena in Albany has gone through a couple of name changes this then and is now the Times Union Center. Their next time around, maybe TP and the HB's could consider giving that place another try?
cofey's picture

Tom Petty!
Anonymous's picture

We enjoyed the show immensely although Tom and company did play less than in previous shows. Maybe because CNS played almost an hour and a half. But the Heartbreakers reached a peak of intensity I don't think I've ever experienced before. Wow! I have experienced the trauma of parking at SPAC so came up with a solution this year. There is one hotel in the state park - Gideon Putnam, hideously overpriced at $450 a night. But we splurged and walked all of 5 minutes to the concert. After the show another 5 minute walk and we're back in the hotel bar talking about the show. And you know, to save the hassle and stress it was really worth it!
rburroughs's picture

If this is the last concert I ever see, I will die a happy soul. They were amazing. The sound was great.....the visuals were wonderful....I simply feel so lucky to have experienced such a wonderful event. Tom Petty was very sincere, warm, absolutely made you feel like he was so happy to be there. Again, God Bless Tom Petty and the of the best bands ever!!!
kevshea's picture

This is a NY State Park and within the park, (The park is large) is the outdoor theater that is the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. No alcohol is allowed to enter the surrounding park. (I expected you can’t bring in beer to the theater, but you can’t enter the park!) I guess you could sneak it in, but that requires lying to the trooper and if they see a cooler, they will look inside. This was strictly enforced by NY State Troopers at park entry points before the Petty concert. Security is high, with police also on horseback. I felt like I was an inmate in the confines of the correctional facility. If you are interested in arriving early with tail gating in mind wine or brew, you will have no choice but to do so off site! Myself, having arrived from my journey; with having a few brews in mind once parked,…was extremely disappointed. Be prepared to have a NY State Trooper detail enter or search your vehicle upon gate entry in search of alcoholic beverages. I observed tailgaters gathered in surrounding motel parking lots or roadside food businesses outside the state park. * Note the NY State Police detail leaves about 45 minutes before the show start time at the gate across from PJ’s BBQ. We arrived at 5:30 (7 PM show start) and judging from all the cars that turned around at the check point, many cars had alcohol in them! They do sell 24 oz beer inside for $12.00, but you have to wait in line to get a yellow wrist band first and then wait on the beer line. You can only purchase 1 beer per person! And I guess you wait back in line again if you have to buy a beer for your buddy? If your seat in the lower section, you have to keep showing your ticket at each point until you get to your section. I understand to show your ticket stub, but it got very annoying because each point had a small line and caused you to wait. The Lawn (More like hill-dirt seats-what happened to the lawn!) These seats are barricaded by a 5 foot metal railing. This keeps people from getting into the theater. I think the railing also helps keeping people from short-cutting through peoples’ staked out lawn seats… In the interest of myself and from this comment getting to become a 100 page rant of this facility and its’ regulations, he’s my beef in short: - On site tailgating: Just don’t go! - Lines: Don’t go! ….To get the privilege to purchase alcohol, you have to wait on a wristband line to verify you are of age. This is stupid, because I’m 43 and folks who are older; have to wait on this line. This line was about 20 minutes - -Talking to fellow concert goers some thought it wasn’t as bad as I saw it! I’m not sure the folks I spoke with go to that many venues to see what it is like to see good management and good infrastructure with pleasing the concert goers ? - The VIP parking pass was worth it as I got around 6:55 PM, but I had a receipt from Live Nation that clearly stated that this was not a ticket. When I approached the girl, I said I had VIP tickets and it was at the “Will Call”. I go “ How does this work?” I had the credit card out I used for the VIP parking along with the receipt and she pretended to scan the receipt and let me in! I looked at the receipt knowing that there was no bar coding and that what she did after looking at my receipt, was she saved me a big hassle if she regulated me to made me wait / park my car somewhere and wait on some ticket will call that I heard was not organized well! I will never attend a show at this current facility. The show was awesome and thank God for that! As for the song list, yes I’m not sure why they could not have done something different with the set lists? I saw the same show twice!
swimmykimmy's picture

I thought the show was awesome.I agree it could have been longer.....I was so dissapointed with the cost of tickets.$150.00 for inside seats? Anyone who has been to spac knows if you want to se the band and enjoy the show without being pushed and shoved you need inside seats.....At that price I couldnt even afford my my husband and I both to go....I am dissapointed because I have loved Tom Petty ever since I can remember and This was mine and my 22 year old daughter's 3rd show{all at spac] and ticket prices were double since the last time he played there....I thought you were a real working mans band Tom? Inside seats were all old people with money.and we couldnt afford more than 1 beer at $10.00 each!! I love you and am glad I rolled enough quarters to see you but it seems a little greedy to me......
uwreckme's picture

Great show by 2 fantastic bands. I am from the CA Bay area and saw the Oakland show, it was very good but having CSN open was far superior to Joe Cocker (sorry Joe). They played 2 encores and were fantastic, even got a few screams at the end from Steven Stills. David is still smiling and looking at the crowd like he always does. I agree the Heartbreakers set was surprisingly short, a 2 song encore and no Mystic Eyes. Ended about 10:45. Oh well, that's the way it goes sometimes and I am sure they had their reasons. Tom seemed positively joyful, many wonderful, warm smiles, and it was a very tight and entertaining show. Sound quality was excellent. I am so glad the band is so happy, they deserve all the best. It is a NIGHTMARE at SPAC!!! This was the 2nd TPATH show for me and will be the last. I also bought the $300 VIP tickets and parking. They simply do not know how to get crowds of people and many cars in and out. The State Troopers are not directing traffic, they stand around looking bored. Everyone was complaining and many left their cars on the road and walked in. We arrived very late and missed most of CSN's set. The Will Call situation was poor, instead of breaking it up alphabetically and having the tickets pre-printed, you wait in a long line and they print the tickets then. No time to get a wristband, so between acts we went up to get beverage or use restroom, it was the worst crowd scene ever. People were jammed up next to each other and we were so claustrophobic. We gave up and went back to our seats with no drink or bathroom break, unfortunate especially after being in traffic for so long. It is a very dangerous situation with people pushing on each other to get out and lots of bottlenecks. Just awful! We were happy we saw the show, but hated the Saratoga Performing Arts Center management of crowds and were glad we got out safely and all together.
lindalou86's picture

I agree with Ronald2 and IVD. There were 2 ways into the parking lot, you could sit in traffic all night and miss most of the show, or ditch out another $10 to drive down the road with no traffic, only lots and lots of cops, waiting for you. The cops were out in droves to shake people down for their alcohol. I've been to way to many concerts to count and never seen anything like it before. The lawn seating was a deathtrap, god forbid emergency personnel ever needed to get in or out of there. and honestly, the ladies room doesn't even have an entrance, just an exit. I was told the entrance was "on the other side". The other side of what? I never did find it! It may have been worth it all if TP & HB played some of our favorite songs, but even that was another bust. Big disappointment. I LOVE TOM PETTY and THE HEARTBREAKERS don't get me wrong. But maybe they know this is their last tour so they just don't care anymore. It would have all been worth it to me if they played PIRATES COVE or SOMETHING GOOD COMING! But alas, it was not to be!
sdoucette78's picture

This was my first show at SPAC, and I was definitely not a fan...that place did not seem to understand how to accommodate all those people; especially the so-called "VIPs". Luckily, I had the foresight to head to Will Call to get my tickets 7 hours before the show. But I was told the VIP parking lot was full (at 6:45), but argued my way in; since I already had a pass to go in, and found the lot half empty. Once inside I found I was not allowed to tailgate, and was too uncomfortable by the prison-guard-type security to even have one beer! So we went in, enjoyed CSN from our wonderful 3rd row seats and then went and drank a warm $11 can of Bud Light. It took me 20 minutes to find the ramp back to my seat! SPAC SUCKS! I'll take Mansfield any day.
Tom rocked, of course, but yes, I agree with everyone. Please mix in some other gems from your vast musical library. Most any song from Wildflowers would be amazing. Your true fans will go nuts over just about anything you play.
davedesouza's picture

Dear Tom, We love you man but the Saratoga show, though energetic, was just too short and plain predictable. We really liked the 4-song Mojo showcase but a mere 17-song same-old-greatest-hits set-list with no surprises, changes or new covers at best didn't rock (or wreck) us, especially considering it was only 100 minutes long - only 10 minutes more than openers CSN. When we saw you in Toronto in 08, your awesome 2-hour set included gems like Spike, Face In The Crowd, Even The Losers and even Sweet William. How about giving us fans something we would really like eg. a career-spanning 'Evening With' ? Go ahead and give it to us! :) Love, Dave & Doc Roc
davedesouza's picture

a little disappointed in hearing the same ol' greatest hits and a somewhat short gig- 100 minutes (CSN played almost the same length). saw the toronto show in 08. that show was 2 hours and included gems like face in the crowd, rebels, the waiting spike and even the losers. the 4-song showcase of the songs of mojo were great but could've been one tune longer and how about some stuff like a woman in love, have love will travel, change of heart or here comes my girl? the show was good at best but it would be nice to get a little more bang for our buck instead of something so inevitably predictable. how about 'an evening with TP & the heartbreakers' tour with a nice cross-section of songs from different periods and a decent 2 hour set?
jsickl2's picture

Had a great time at the show last night .... Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ROCKED !!!!
campfan's picture

We all look so awesome in red...Heartbreakers.... the color of love!
ronster165's picture

Had a great time at SPAC and TP was great. Would have been a great if he had changed it up a bit. One BIG complaint is to the NYS Park Police and NYS in general. First we were "directed" through the park so we had the privelage of paying $10.00 to drive through a 1.6 mile expanse of road (even though it said $8 on the main road). Later finding out that parking was really free at the main parking lot which we parked at.Then to find out that the state police were confiscating all the beer and dumping it in the back of a pickup truck. Hope you guys have a nice end of summer party on the backs of individulas paying over $100.00 a seat.
sdedio2's picture

Paid $300+ for "VIP" tix. Our 4th show with VIP seats this tour. We got to with 3 miles of the venue at 6pm and waited to park for 70 minutes, only to be told that there were no more VIP parking spots left--this is bullshit! Finally got in at 7:20, then had to wait 30 more minutes in line for my "VIP" tix, missing the entire CSN set. Tried to get a beer (limit one?) and waited 25 minutes only to be told I needed to get a bracelet. (F it, I will wait and buy $2 beers later at 11pm). If you pay $300 for a seat, you should not have to wait 30 minutes while the band is playing to get your tickets. This was a miserable experience--I've seen TP over 100 times (no typo) and the two worst experiences have been in Saratoga--never again. IS ANYONE FROM TPs TEAM LISTENING? "ITS WAKE UP TIME" The merchandise also is not up to snuff (lower quality, poor prints on the T-s and ask for a Large hoodie and get a small. I also don't like paying shipping charges that cover shipping charges and the cost of goods--I am not fooled by this. TP and TEAM you need some QC (that's quality control) here--do you care anymore? I also find it wasteful you fed-ex VIP parking passes for $20 that were useless and had 0 value to me. Very disenchanted!
poperocks's picture

Got agree with the lawn cost comment. Saw you several times in past years and I have all your music, its great stuff. I just couldn't afford the tickets prices, kind of sad really. I referenced "The Last DJ", I'm sure you can understand why. Thanks for all the great years.
kpowderski's picture

looking forward to the show tonight. hope to hear US41, but not seeing it in the reivews... oh well i can hope.
Anonymous's picture

i love this band and looking forward to Friday nite but have mixed feelings because it's my last show. please mix up the setlist from the Boston shows..would love to hear Jammin Me-havent heard it since the '99 Echo tour; however whatever you play i will still love you. thanks for everything!!! see you the front row, my husband and i are so excited!
cofey's picture

I totally agree, you need to mix up the setlist!! I've seen you twice this tour, and the setlists were identical except for 1 song. You can change it up a little bit for Friday, right?? Either way, I'll be seeing you from the second row, SO EXCITED!!!
kpowderski's picture

i hope for two songs, Mary Janes Last Dance and US41 from MOJO and a encore with CSN!!
momar49's picture

Any concert pre parties going on in Saratoga Springs?
mef46's picture

please play something good coming!!!!

thanks for a great show at darien lake!!!!

oh and a cover of gloria again would be amazing like the last time you were in saratoga!
bapr101's picture

$53 for lawn seats. What happened to keeping the cost down for the people Tom Petty?
Anonymous's picture

I just enjoyed the show at Darien Lake on the 14th. I noticed the set list has been basically the same for all of the shows this year. I bought tickets for the Saratoga show and then found out you guys added a second Darien show. I am looking forward to the Saratoga show but, if you guys play the same set I will be bummed out. Mix it up. You wreck me, The Waiting, something besides your current set list. I know you guys are gonna mix it up the following night so why not debut some of those songs at Saratoga. Try and play Don't pull me over from the new record. Please guys, mix it up. I have been rockin with you guys since 83' and I will always catch you guys when you come my way. just mix it up for us hard core fans.
kingshighway's picture

So pumped for this concert!!! Glad that the band is touring again and thank you guys a ton! Noticed the beginning concerts opened with kings highway. Hope it finds the setlist again.
sfg's picture

Bringing my younger cousin - the next generation has to Learn to Fly with some American Rock and Roll and no better way that TP&HB. Let's just hope that the concert Nazis and No-Fun Police at SPAC don't ruin it for everyone. Call them out Tom if you get a chance. It will get the crowd going because everyone hates corporate SPAC.
gweedo's picture

Every year that you guys have ever played / come to SPAC is very special to me... Especially the last tour with Allman Brothers when you played a Wilbury tribute, that was classic!!!

I've gotten to see you guys when Black Crows, Jackson Browne, & Allman Brothers have opened for you... gets better every time!

If you guys get the chance to do "Swinging" - i would personally get on stage to do Howie's part for him....

If not, another Wilbury song,,,OR,,, Gloria, Mystic Eyes, or Knockin on Heaven's Door would be just fine too :)

Thanks 4 doing your thing and not taking any sh*t... :D