Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are considered one of the best live rock & roll bands for the past 4 decades and they didn’t have to release a new CD (Hypnotic Eye) in order to perform to sold-out crowds across the country. In regards to sheer rock ‘n’ roll force the Heartbreakers ranks right behind Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and possibly the Rolling Stones on any hot summer night.
Petty and his long-lasting partners Mike Campbell (guitars) and Benmont Tench (keyboards), original Heartbreakers bassist Ron Blair, dexterous drummer Steve Ferrone and important utility player Scott Thurston, are packing something fresh rock & roll: Hypnotic Eye is their first really raw CD in 4 years.
Sociopolitically like their album “The Last DJ” produced a decade ago is consistently fiercer, it’s an incredibly renewing CD from their original rock & roll roots. Throughout 11 winners they pile on Cream-y psychedelia, fuzzed-up garage-rock happiness, homages to roots heroes and periodic jazzy detours while also growing both lyrics and grooves. “Take what you can, all you can carry,” Petty sings, “take what you can and leave the past behind.”
Hypnotic Eye isn’t the hits-stuffed rundown that hard-boozin’ party individuals would have chosen, but for longtime Heartbreaker fans, those who value less-revered tunes as much as what the band needs to offer now, it’s a fascinating stretch of smokin hot riffs, riddled with surprises and good old rock and roll.
Through all of it, Petty was as jolly as he was severe, playfully bantering whenever he wasn’t merely astonished by the deafening crowds response. “This is an old tune, it originates from 1985,” he stated ahead of the brushed-up “Rebels.” “That was a great year, huh, ’85? We had the huge large shoulders … cocaine … hair gel … mousse, it was called mousse.”
Steve Winwood with whom these headliners have toured before, opened with a taut and dynamic hour-long turn framing his time with fundamental ’60s groovers, “I’m a Man” to begin and “Gim me Some Lovin'” to complete, Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and a smattering of Traffic jams (“Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” were vibrant highlights to a robust, Calypso-inflected version of “Higher Love.” The fun of that rearrangement is factor enough to arrive early.