The Royal Albert Hall added to its rich concert history on Wednesday night
as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers closed out their two-night run at the
famed London venue with an epic show featuring a guest appearance by close
friend and rock legend Steve Winwood.
Backstage hopped with excitement before the show as family and friends
mingled with the band amid the road cases. Winwood - who opened for Tom
and the Heartbreakers' summer tour in 2008 - caught up with tour manager
Richard Fernandez and checked out guitars with Alan Rogan before the show.
Olivia Harrison dropped in to say hello. Father-and-son producing duo Glyn
and Ethan Johns were around. Nick Lowe and Jimmy Page were in the house
and Helen Mirren came backstage to say hi.
At the center of it all, Tom and the guys were loose, smiling and laughing
and generally soaking it all in.
The biggest difference between Monday and Wednesday's shows was the
swagger the band had as it took the stage following Jonathan Wilson's
opening set. There was no hint of nerves, despite the fact that Benmont
Tench's organ was on the fritz and some of the guys were fighting
off colds. When the house lights dropped and the crowd erupted into
cheers, the band strode onstage and did what they do best.
Hit after hit after hit, they barreled through the show with singular
intent, locked in and focused. Just after he finished introducing
the Heartbreakers, Tom talked about their love of the British Music
Invaders that they heard growing up as kids as a member of the sound crew
set up a microphone between him and Mike Campbell.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Winwood," Tom said with a smile. The Albert
Hall welcomed Winwood with a roar, and out of the deafening madness
emerged the delicate acoustic fingerpicking that opens "Can't Find My Way
Home." Mike Campbell took the first solo, Winwood the second. As the song
headed for the outro, Campbell wove slide guitar swells in with Winwood's
soaring vocals. Beautiful.
If anything could have topped "Can't FInd My Way Home," it would be "Gimme
Some Lovin'." Led by Winwood on the Hammond organ, Tom and the band nailed
the 1966 Spencer Davis Group hit, evidenced by the entire Royal Albert
Hall dancing floor to gallery.
"This has been a tremendous honor to play for you in this room tonight,"
Tom said before the band blasted out the iconic "American Girl" riff.
"Thank you very much, London. We'll see you again soon."
Isle of Wight is next! Hope to see you there. Keep checking back for more
from the Heartbreakers' 2012 Summer Tour!
Listen to Her Heart
You Wreck Me
I Won't Back Down
Here Comes My Girl
Handle with Care
Don't Come Around Here No More
Can't Find My Way Home*
Gimme Some Lovin'*
It's Good To Be King
Something Good Coming
Learning to Fly
Yer So Bad
I Shoulda Known It
Runnin' Down A Dream
* with Steve Winwood