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40 Years of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers [Photos]

Commemorating a 40-year span of legendary rock and roll, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rolled into Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center on Friday night, where fans filled the arena eager to see the rock legends, potentially on their final tour.

Following the previous week’s postponement, due to Petty’s episode of laryngitis, Friday’s crowd was especially eager to witness the 66-year-old singer’s performance. While Petty showed signs of aging, his spirit remained in the old days as the slightest thrust of a hip was enough to drive the arena into an uproar.

Drifting through their classic discography, Petty and the Heartbreakers sounded as unison as they would on a vinyl recording from the 70s. Performing hits such as “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” and “Free Fallin,’” each song turned into a massive sing-along.

In a moment of reflection, Petty made time to dedicate “I Won’t Back Down” to the many citizens fighting for their lives in Houston, Texas – an uplifting act of solidarity.

As the night went on, each point of discourse became a greater opportunity for applause. Petty’s introduction of each member of the Heartbreakers was especially endearing for longtime fans, as he cited memories from the times they first met and anecdotes from an entertaining career that is “probably illegal.” Throughout the night, photos of the band’s legacy played in the background, from moments on tour to more intimate memories as a group.

Petty also made time to acknowledge The Shelters, the tour’s supporting act, which opened the night up with tracks from their self-titled debut album. Although Petty co-produced the album, the band’s performance on Friday fell short of leaving a lasting impression.

Fortunately, Petty had every intent of leaving an impression on the crowd. From throwing his harmonica to the side of the stage without caution, to flashing his devilish smile in response to the crowd’s cheers, Petty made sure the most subtle interactions were felt sincere.

As the moments of applause lingered on his discretion, you could see a sense of longing in Petty. Whether he was longing for the past or longing for the present to last, he and the Heartbreakers produced a sonic keepsake for all in attendance on Friday.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers continue their tour this month, with a sold-out grand finale at the Hollywood Bowl.

For more information, visit TomPetty.com/tour.

Below, we have captured a few of the moments from Friday’s show. Enjoy!

Photos by Steve Martarano

Petty and the Heartbreakers
Bassist Ron Blair

Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, Tom Petty
Mike Campbell

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About the author

Cesar Alexander

Cesar Alexander

Cesar Alexander is assistant editor for Sacramento Press. A native to California, he enjoys writing and discovering the varieties of art, live music, nature and everyday wonders the Sacramento region has to offer.

About the author

Steve Martarano

Steve Martarano

A resident of Sacramento since graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, Steve spent the 1980s at The Sacramento Union, working as a sports writer, music reviewer and crime reporter, among other assignments. He's spent the last 25+ years working in government public affairs for both state and federal agencies and currently is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bay-Delta office in Sacramento. He has shot just about every local sports team for the Sacramento Press, including local colleges, the Sacramento River Cats and Sacramento Republic FC. He resides in Curtis Park with his wife Sharon.

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