Tom Petty & Heartbreakers – Live at the Fillmore, 1997 (3LP)
Tom Petty & Heartbreakers – Live at the Fillmore, 1997 (6LP Deluxe Boxed Set)
Across 20 nights in January and February, 1997, Petty and the Heartbreakers appropriated the Fillmore
Auditorium in San Francisco. Untethered from expectations, setlists were packed with favorite songs
from the past. Occasionally, old friends even dropped by to share the stage for a few songs.
A new collection – available in either three- or six-LP editions – celebrates this period. The performances
captured on Live at the Fillmore, 1997, are joyous and relaxed. On the deluxe edition, 35 of the 58 songs
are covers, ranging from Chuck Berry and Little Richard to the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead. Petty’s
playful mood is best encapsulated in how he uses a sing-along version of “You Are My Sunshine” to set
up a cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
When Petty and company do get around to performing the hits, they are often in different form.
Performances of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Good to Be King” stretch more than 10 minutes. “Even
the Losers” and “American Girl” are stripped down to acoustic guitars and piano.
Nearly everyone in the band gets to take the spotlight. Even better are the moments when Roger
McGuinn and John Lee Hooker take over the mic, pressing the Heartbreakers into service as stand-by
Byrds or Canned Heat, respectively.
Live at the Fillmore, 1997, is a celebration and reminder of the Heartbreakers’ stellar musicianship and
communion. On the hype sticker, Petty says “this might be the high point of our time together as a
group.” There are plenty of great moments in the Heartbreakers’ canon, but arguing with Petty on this
point would be foolish. -Joel Francis