Concert Review – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Dallas

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Dallas

I would like to take this moment to blame Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for my insomnia. Since the band released their Hypnotic Eye album in July, I have been waking up in the middle of the night to guitar riffs from “American Dream Plan B,” “Red River” and “Fault Lines” swirling around my head. After seeing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at the American Airlines Center on Friday night, I might as well not even try to go to bed.  The band turned in a straight-forward and masterful set that will have me, and countless others, wired for days.

“You better call the babysitter,” Petty said. “He’s looking a little wacky; this could take a while.”  Indeed, Petty and band were in no rush to deliver their two-hour set of new songs and fan favorites. Given that every ticket to the show came with a digital download of Hypnotic Eye, it wasn’t surprising that Petty’s new material was very well received. In fact, performances of “American Dream Plan B,” “U Get Me High,” “Forgotten Man,” and “Shadow People” fit into the set so well that the songs felt like instant classics.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in Dallas

Long-time fans got their fair share of favorites, as well. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Free Fallin'” had the entire audience on choir duty. It was ironic when Petty asked the crowd if they felt like singing prior to “I Won’t Back Down” since they had been doing just that from the start of the show. 

As expected, guitarist Mike Campbell tore up the stage with his guitar work. His calm demeanor was similar to a wolf in sheep’s clothing as he electrified the crowd with his blazing solos. Just as entertaining were his interactions with fans near the front of the stage. You could definitely tell that Campbell was having fun.

Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers in Dallas

Benmont Tench, who recently put out an album of his own, shined on piano especially during a solo lead-in to the bittersweet rocker, “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me).”

Halfway through the show, a fan in front called out for Stevie Nicks. A reference to Petty’s show in Dallas a few years back when Nicks surprisingly joined Petty on stage. “Sorry, I don’t have her,” Petty joked. “Unfortunately for you, I made the program this evening.” That said, it was a program that rocked from beginning to end. Even the quieter moments of the show had a captivating aura. A scaled down, acoustic version of “Rebels” had Petty promising and delivering a quiet moment with “cosmic rewards.” 

This review would not be complete without a mention of the opening act, Steve Winwood. The iconic rocker, with grey pirate-like sideburns, served up a hearty platter of groove-a-licious jams. At one point in the show, Winwood and his four-piece band had been jamming so long that a crew member had to come onto the stage mid-song to replace the incense. Winwood dug deep into his catalog, performing “vintage” cuts from his Blind Faith, Traffic and Spencer Davis Group days. There was also a jazzed up version of Winwood’s solo hit, “Higher Love.”

Steve Winwood in Dallas

The jams could have gone on all night, and in some respects, for me and my insomnia, they will. Oh well, sleep is overrated. But Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Steve Winwood definitely aren’t. 

What did you think of the show? Share your thoughts with Classic Rock Blog!

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Bryan Adams to Release 30th Anniversary Edition of ‘Reckless’

Bryan Adams 'Reckless' Anniversary Edition

Released in 1984, Reckless turned Bryan Adams into a worldwide rock star. Timeless hits like “Run to You,” “Heaven” and “Summer of ‘69” pushed sales of the album to over 12 million copies.

This November (Nov. 10th in the UK/EU and Nov. 24th in North America), Adams will release a special 30th Anniversary Edition of Reckless. The lavish four-disc super-deluxe set will include the 2014 re-mastered audio and seven bonus tracks, a BBC in Concert performance from 1985, a DVD of Reckless-The Movie, and a Blu-Ray audio recording of the original album and a stereo mix re-mastered this year.

The Super Deluxe Edition is available now for pre-order on Amazon. And…while you’re waiting for the set to arrive, check-out Bryan Adams’ new covers album, “Tracks of My Years.” Set for release on September 30th, the album features a diverse collection of time-honored classics from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Rock & Poll: Rate U2’s New Album, ‘Songs of Innocence’

U2's Songs of Innocence

U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, was released for free on iTunes this week. Gotta love that! But…do you love the album?

Rate Songs of Innocence in Classic Rock Blog’s “Rock & Poll.” 

John Mellencamp Announces 2015 Tour


How does your calendar look for 2015?  You may want to save a night or two while you can for John Mellencamp. The singer just announced an 80-date North American tour that will circle the states and parts of Canada from January through the summer.

The Plain Spoken tour, in support of Mellencamp’s upcoming record release (September 23rd), kicks-off January 21st in South Bend, Indiana. Several cities including Nashville, Minneapolis and Chicago will be treated to at least two shows. New York City is slated for four shows, two at Carnegie Hall and two at the Apollo Theater.  The tour wraps up on August 4th in Indianapolis with a portion of the ticket proceeds from that evening benefiting the Riley Children’s Foundation.

Pre-sale and VIP package information can be found on Mellencamp’s website.

Read Classic Rock Blog’s review of John Mellencamp’s June performance at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Find out about John Mellencamp’s historic lifetime recording contract

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Changes Bands

Joel Hoekstra

Joel Hoekstra
Photo credit: Night Ranger website

Just as fast and stunning as one of Joel Hoekstra’s fiery guitar licks comes word that he is leaving Night Ranger to join Whitesnake.

Hoekstra has been with Night Ranger for nearly a decade, recently performing on the band’s album High Road. The guitarist will continue to fulfill the remaining dates of the band’s tour in support of the album. 

“We couldn’t be happier for Joel,” Night Ranger said in a Facebook post. “The last 8+ years have been a blast and we wish him nothing but the best.”

From wishing the best to expecting the best, David Coverdale of Whitesnake quickly took to the web to announce his band’s new Snake Brother.

“Everyone was very impressed by him,” Coverdale wrote. “Not only for his ability to play amazing guitar, but, also, his very agreeable personality. Coverdale added, “We jammed together and we were mutually impressed enough to ask him to join Whitesnake on the spot.”

Hoekstra replaces Whitesnake’s Doug Aldrich while Night Ranger will announce their new guitarist soon. A few fans posted requests on Night Ranger’s Facebook page to bring back original guitarist Jeff Watson …only time will tell.

Hoekstra has always been a bit of a journeyman, often juggling multiple bands/projects at once including Night Ranger, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Rock of Ages. 


Concert Review: Ted Nugent at Billy Bob’s Texas (2014)

Ted Nugent at Billy Bob's Texas

Outspoken, but never out-rocked, Ted Nugent stormed the stage at Billy Bob’s Texas Saturday night with his guitar blazing.

“How about we play amazing guitar licks all night?” Nugent asked the energetic crowd. And that’s just what he did, treating fans to a rock ‘n’ roll free for all, or as the avid hunter put it, “A big old Uncle Ted barbecue free for all.”

Nugent and his band (Derek St. Holmes on guitars and vocals, Mick Brown on drums, and Greg Smith on bass and vocals) were in high spirits throughout the show. It turns out the boys had a lot to celebrate on Saturday. Not only was it Nugent’s 6,514 concert, it was also the second to last night of the Shut Up & Jam! tour.  That could explain why St. Holmes spent most of the show bombarding fans with guitar picks…hey, it’s the end of the tour, everything must go, right?

Nugent’s stop at Billy Bob’s Texas has become a summer tradition. Fans came ready to rock out to classic Nugent tunes such as “Free for All,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” and “Stranglehold.”  Added to the setlist this summer were the ’70s deep tracks “Gonzo” and “Queen of the Forest.” Even though Nugent’s latest album (Shut Up & Jam!) was released in July, only the title track saw the light of day on tour. 

Throughout the show, Nugent told the crowd that they inspired him. The admiration was mutual as fans frequently shouted out, “Nugent for President!” 

Ted Nugent and Derek St. Holmes at Billy Bob's Texas

By the time the band tore into the final four songs of the main set (“Hey Baby,” “Fred Bear,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” and “Stranglehold”) the energy in the room had reached fever pitch. Fans were standing, clapping, singing, and fist pumping along to the infectious grooves unleashed by the Motor City Madman.  And, yes, a few fans were still combing the floor for St. Holmes’ guitar picks!

Unlike last year’s quick departure from the stage, Nugent returned for an encore, performing “Great White Buffalo.”  When it was all over, Nugent took a moment to absorb the wild spirit in the room…a spirit liberated by the power of rock ‘n’ roll…bringing a sense of freedom to all who experienced it.

Like I said, he may be outspoken, but no one out-rocks Uncle Ted!

What did you think of the show? Share your thoughts with Classic Rock Blog!

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Concert Review: Chris Isaak at Billy Bob’s Texas

Chris Isaak at Billy Bob's Texas

Chris Isaak captured the audience’s attention Friday night at Billy Bob’s Texas the moment he walked onto the stage. He was wearing a blue sequined suit, after all. But wardrobe aside, the Sun Records influenced troubadour and his band of thirty years dazzled the crowd throughout their 28-song, two-hour set. A set that featured classic Isaak tunes, tributes to the legends of Sun Records, and even a surprise guest that had long time local music lovers on cloud nine. 

Isaak started the show with the Elvis Presley rockabilly flavored “Gone Ridin’,” followed by the ’50s pop influenced “Somebody’s Crying” and “I Believe.” Isaak then thanked the audience for coming out to support live music. “Without you, I’d just be wandering around Fort Worth in a sequin suit with nothing to do,” he said. “People would come up to me and ask, ‘Are you a figure skater?'”

Though Isaak didn’t have to wander around town aimlessly, he did wander out into the audience to perform “Don’t Leave Me on My Own.” Making his way to the back of the crowd, Isaak took time for handshakes and pictures, and then mentioned that an old friend of his was in the crowd. Johnny Reno then stood up with his saxophone in hand. Reno had played in Isaak’s band for a while in the ’90s, and before that was an original member of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble. Reno played along with Isaak as they strolled through the crowd, but the real treat would come later in the show when Reno re-joined the band on stage.  

Chris Isaak at Billy Bob'sTexas

The middle part of Chris Isaak’s show at Billy Bob’s Texas featured the singer’s more contemporary tunes including the bossa nova and rock mash-up, “Notice the Ring.” Followed by “Let Me Down Easy,” “American Boy,” “Wicked Game,” and an energetic, chant-filled “Goin’ Nowhere,” after which Isaak proclaimed, “Let your freak flag fly, Texas!”

A standout moment of the show came when Isaak performed the torch song, “You Don’t Cry Like I Do.”  The tune’s haunting lyrics (“You don’t want me, you don’t love me, and that’s what kills me.”) and Isaak’s velvet voice made for a stirring performance. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and picture Roy Orbison on stage. 

Near the end of the set, Isaak welcomed Johnny Reno back for four songs that were as eclectic as the performers on stage. Reno shined on the instrumental “Harlem Nocturne” and added a bit of swagger to “Blue Spanish Sky.” Isaak then asked Reno to join in on a song the band hadn’t performed in a while, “Diddley Daddy.” The rockin’ Bo Diddley-esque number had Isaak grinning ear to ear, and featured a scorching organ solo by Scott Plunkett. It was easy to tell that the band was having a blast at this point.

Chris Isaak at Billy Bob's Texas

“Wow! I forgot what I’m supposed to do now,” Isaak said following the rousing performance of “Diddley Daddy.” Luckily, he regained his composure to launch into Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Isaak and band would also cover Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” (complete with a smoking piano and Isaak clad in a silver-plated suit). 

Throughout the 28-song late night show, the energy level at Billy Bob’s Texas never dropped. Indeed, just as dazzling as his wardrobe, Chris Isaak’s performance was downright captivating. 

What did you think of the show? Share your thoughts with Classic Rock Blog!

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