Petty and Winwood combine for memory lane trip at Riverbend

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Steve Winwood
Riverbend Music Center
Cincinnati, Ohio
July 8, 2008

Tom Petty concerts in Cincinnati have been fairly consistent over the past decade. He and his backing band of Heartbreakers come in, play the hits, rock out on the odd, deep album cuts, and move on to the next town. So, it was surprising when Petty filled the house at Riverbend Music Center on July 8, and a shock to find his warm-up act, Steve Winwood nearly stealing the show from under Petty’s feet.

Winwood began the concert with fiery command of his Spencer Davis Group material ("I’m a Man, Gimme Some Lovin’"), and even slipped in Blind Faith’s "Can’t Find My Way Home." But, it was his revved up attack on guitar during Traffic’s "Dear Mr. Fantasy" that earned him several standing ovations. It was a hard act to follow.

Petty and the Heartbreakers took to the stage with much fanfare, and proceeded to lean towards older material. Pumped up takes on "Even the Losers" and "Free Fallin’" had many in the crowd shouting the lyrics back towards the stage in unison. And, it was Petty’s odd b-sides and tunes from 1994’s Wildflowers album that resonated with the multi generational throng that packed the venerable amphitheatre. Petty and guitarist Mike Campbell rocked out mightily on "Sweet William" and Wildflowers‘ "Honey Bee" and "You Don’t Know How It Feels."

Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench’s circular runs on "Saving Grace" sent the audience home, beaming with the experience of summer’s aged and oddly inspired yet driven one-two punch, the Tom Petty and Steve Winwood Concert Tour- The 2008 Edition.