As a slight variation on the band reunion tours that litter the concert schedules like so much confetti, there’s the group that might as well have split up because they haven’t bothered coming around these parts for a very long time.
It’s been 13 years since Petty and his Heartbreakers came our way. What’s changed? More baldness, presumably, among a largely male audience that took time to warm up before standing was an option — though Petty himself was more hair than man. There’s also a newish album, Mojo, from 2010, which provided the heaviest rockouts and least memorable tunes. Something Good Coming was a pretty highlight of a midway acoustic segment. Petty was in fine voice — even his spoken drawl, in which he revealed that playing the Albert Hall “is a long-time dream of ours”, was a delight — and lead guitarist Mike Campbell was also in confident command of his instrument. Rhythm guitarist Scott Thurston, “one of our newer members, who joined the band in 1989”, was useful on harmonica and backing vocals and nabbed the Roy Orbison part on a Travelling Wilburys song, Handle with Care.
Petty rattled maracas on a rollicking Fleetwood Mac cover, Oh Well, but mostly jangled his guitar and delivered the classics with precision — after I Won’t Back Down, Free Fallin’ and American Girl, he was just about forgiven for such a long absence.