"I can feel the mojo in this place. Can you feel the mojo?"
Tom Petty smiled widely out over the sea of 60,000-plus screaming fans gathered in front of the Fess stage for the Heartbreakers' headlining set on Saturday at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
New Orleans holds a special place in the hearts of musicians and music aficionados as the Crescent City's cultural heritage - comprised of Spanish, French, African and Creole influences - has resulted in a veritable melting pot of music. Jazz, blues, funk, cajun all call NOLA home, and JazzFest celebrates this legacy every April and May with almost two weeks of non-stop music throughout the city, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.
The mood was set for the Heartbreakers by a fantastic set of New Orleans standards earlier in the day on the Fess Stage from the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars featuring Tab Benoit, Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Vidacovich, Johnny Sansone, Waylon Thibodeaux and a special guest sit-in from Galactic drummer Stanton Moore.
Tom and the band were certainly feeling the vibe onstage Saturday, playing a set just short of two hours that featured a great "Something Big," the return of the band's cover of JJ Cale's "Travelin' Light" and culminating with an incendiary "Mary Jane's Last Dance/American Girl" encore.
As Tom and the guys gathered at the front of the stage to wave goodbye to the JazzFest faithful following the last notes of the encore, the sun dipped below the horizon of the Fairgrounds, the end of a historic day in Heartbreakers history.
Listen to Her Heart
You Wreck Me
I Won't Back Down
Here Comes My Girl
Handle with Care
I'm A Man
Have Love Wi
Time to Move On
Learning to Fly
Yer So Bad
I Shoulda Known It
Runnin' Down A Dream