Nils Lofgren and Tom Petty Newcastle City Hall 1977
On a few occasions I have seen the support act clearly outshine the headliner. Lynyrd Skynyrd as support act for Golden Earring is one example. This pairing, of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers supporting Nils Lofgren in 1977 is another. We’d read a lot about this new upcoming band who combined classic rock with the energy of punk, the Byrds’ jangling guitars, and a cool blonde-haired guy singing. I’d seen them on TV, probably on the Old Grey Whistle Test, and was blown away by the song “American Girl”. I remember being a little confused by the name, as I had just seen Johnny Thunders and his Heartbreakers in concert! So we made sure we were in the City Hall early that night to see Petty and his band. They certainly didn’t disappoint, and gave the crowd a set which Nils found difficult to follow. This was one of the rare occasions that I have seen the hall full for the first band, and the support act having to return for an encore. I saw Petty again the following year supporting Jefferson Starship and Genesis at Knewborth, but haven’t managed to see him since. I had a ticket to see him at the Albert Hall last year but couldn’t make it on the day, which is a big regret for me. I hope Tom returns to the UK sometime soon so I can have another chance to catch him in concert. The tour programme proclaims “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is purely and simply the best mainstream rock debut by any American band this year…” and that Tom is a ” grey-eyed offspring of Speedy Keene and Mick Ronson” :). This album, the single “American Girl”, the tour, and their appearances on UK TV broke Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the UK, and enabled them to go on to success in their home country and across the world. The UK dates with Nils were so successful that Petty and the guys were back a few weeks later to headline their own series of dates. From the Melody Maker at the time: “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers end their breakthrough British tour with Nils Lofgren this week — but the band return for their own concert series next month. The band’s phenomenal rise to headlining status has taken just three weeks. They came to Britain at the beginning of this month to play as support band on the Lofgren tour. Petty and the Heartbreakers, however, are ending the tour as one of the most in-demand bands currently playing in this country.” Nils was promoting his new album “I Came to Dance” and played an excellent gig, but was simply outclassed by the young guys who preceded him on stage that night. “I’m not Bob Dylan, but I never miss a beat. I ain’t no philosopher, I dance in the street. I came to dance…..”. The Lofgren set list at Newcastle City Hall 24th May 1977 was: Rock ‘n’ Roll Crook; Keith Don’t Go; Like Rain; Incidentally It’s Over; Goin’ Back; Code of the Road; Cry Tough; It’s Not A Crime; You’re The Weight; Moon Tears; I Don’t Want To Talk About It; Back It Up. Encores – Beggars Day; I Came To Dance.
The Tom Petty set list was: Surrender; Jaguar And Thunderbird; American Girl; Fooled Again; Breakdown; Listen To Her Heart; Strangered In The Night; I Need To Know; Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll; Dog On The Run. Encore: Route 66.
“I Need To Know” was a big favourite of mine at the time, and brings back happy memories. This was one of those gigs that still sticks in my memory and that I would love to relive if I could.
Many thanks to Mitch for the two setlists, which helped bring back some of the memories.
Archive for the ‘Tom Petty’ Category
Nils Lofgren and Tom Petty Newcastle City Hall 1977
Genesis Knebworth 1978 A Midsummer Nights Dream
And Then There Were Three…..
Support from Jefferson Starship, Tom Petty, Devo, Brand X, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Roy Harper
Come 1978 and Genesis were massive news. Firstly they were one of the biggest bands in the UK, big enough to headline the massive Knebworth festival and secondly they were in the news because their line-up changed again when Steve Hackett left to pursue a solo career. Genesis were now down to three members, and hence the album title, those being Phil Collins now vocalist, frontman, and drummer extraordinaire, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitar, and Tony Banks on keyboards. The remaining musical duties we fulfilled by players Daryl Stuermer on guitar and Chester Thompson on drums. By 1978 the Knebworth Festival was well established and the line-up for this event was pretty strong. Of the other acts on the bill I remember enjoying Tom Petty particularly. In fact his set was the highlight of the day. Jefferson Starship also played a great set, which was remarkable given the absence of lead singer Grace Slick who had left the band a few days earlier, suffering from drink and drug problems. The weather was ok, warm, but not hot. Festival favourite Roy Harper was a late, unexpected and very welcome addition to the bill, coming on stage to warm the crowd up just before Genesis. The headliners took to the stage quite late in the evening, and had an amazing light show. The set was drawn mostly from their more recent albums, which was a disappointment for me, as I was hoping that they would still play some of their older material. I Know What I Like was reserved for the encore. The single at the time was Follow You Follow Me. The crowd gave Genesis a great reception with major singing along to Follow You Follow Me and I Know What I Like. I suppose this was the point where Genesis really became a mega band in the UK, and started to move more towards AOR and soft rock, and away from the beautiful mysterious prog rock what had characterised their earlier days. Although I continued to enjoy their music and saw them a few more times, something innocent and beautiful had been lost during the journey, and it wasn’t simply about the departure of Peter Gabriel. Genesis had changed into a different sort of rock act, and I guess that night at Knebworth I realised that for the first time. I enjoyed the gig but left the field longing to see them play The Musical Box, Watcher of the Skies and The Knife.