"Hey Tom, why not make this an annual thing?!"
The belted fan suggestion between "Night Watchman" and "Good Enough" elicited a huge cheer among fans in the first few rows, an approving point from Benmont Tench and smiles across the stage at the Beacon Theatre Thursday night, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' third night of this weeklong residency at one of New York's legendary rooms.
In a way, the heckler couldn't be more right. This residency has been exceptional, both in offering Tom and the band an opportunity to stretch out, dig deep into their catalog (as well as those of other favorite artists) and play whatever they want and allowing fans an intimate glimpse at this crack band up close and personal.
Beyond that, Tom has played nearly every other room in the Big Apple over the course of his storied career, beginning with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers debut at CBGBs in December 1976. With a long history and even longer list of musician admirers, the Beacon is an intimate old theatre and exceptional listening room, making for a perfect match for Tom, the band and their audience.
The Beacon's vibe was in full effect Thursday night, set early on with the first appearance of "Don't Do Me Like That," the band's first Top 10 hit of its career. "Something Big" - a setlist staple on the 2012 tour - roared into "Night Watchman," which Tom estimated the band hasn't played "since 1981." Mike Campbell continues to slay the slow-blues burner "Good Enough," but I don't think anyone could have predicted the band would play "House in the Woods," a deep track off Wildflowers. "I Want You Back Again" was made all the more poignant by Tom's story about seeing the Zombies at his first concert and Mike was at the same show, unbeknownst to him. Tonight's four-song acoustic section of the show - kicked off by "Rebels" and wrapped with a cover of Little Feat's "Willin'" - may have been the best of the run so far.
With two shows left on Saturday and Sunday, I don't know what the band's got left in the bag after three great shows, but I wouldn't want to miss it.
Rock & Roll Star
Love Is A Long Road
Don't Do Me Like That
House in the Woods
Woman In Love
Have Love Will Travel
Tweeter And The Monkey Man
I Want You Back Again
I Should Have Known It
Runnin' Down A Dream
E: You Wreck Me