Tom Petty & His Heartbreakers Rock NYC’s Beacon Theater

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Live Review: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Beacon Theater NYC

20 May 2013

Petty’s voice is still a wonder. At 62, he sings as smoothly and sleekly as ever, but he also packs enough punch to bring the anguish of “Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” home.

Imagine Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers drop a new LP, and it’s just killer. Not just “killer” in that Echo or Mojo way, as in a killer document of a killer band doing what it was hatched to do. I mean in that Wildflowers or Full Moon Fever way, that damn near universal way, the songs so urgent with defiant life they could haul you up out of a coma. Imagine Tom Petty puts out a new record so vital and affecting that it would be adored by anyone who has ever before liked a Tom Petty song, even just “Free Fallin.'”

Now ask yourself, “How would anyone ever hear it?”

There’s nothing new about rock and rollers touring on long after they’ve outlived their hitmaking potential. What is new is the bewildering fact that still-significant artists like Petty or Springsteen have somehow outlived their own radio formats. You can still hear “Wildflowers” on Classic Rock, on those playlists that the wooly mammoths grooved to as the tar bubbled up around them, but if there were a new song that sounded like “Wildflowers” the only stations on terrestrial radio that might possibly play it would have to label it country. In fact, country already has a “Wildflowers”: Brad Paisley’s “Ticks,” which cops to ripping off Petty right there in the chorus.

Petty made sure nobody mistook anything in the first of his four Beacon Theatre shows (we’ll be back tonight, too) for Nashville. He opened with a good hour of album tracks as swampy and fucked-up as the Northern Florida he hails from, searching, bruised-up rockers like “Love Is a Long Road,” “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” and “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It).” Maybe he figures if radio won’t play him now, he may as well play the ones it wouldn’t even play back in the day. What would you do if in 15 years you somehow went from top-of-the-world rock star to Wynton Marsalis-like practitioner of an un-commercial art?

Deep cuts that cut deep, last night’s long run of dirges laid bare the early Heartbreakers’ true place in rock history: the exact middle ground between the ’70s studio-slick southern rock and the desperate blurt of the punk to come. “I don’t like it!” Petty yowled, on record and at the Beacon, the words hocked up out of his chest. Folks hoping for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” might have shouted the same.

And all that was before lead guitar hero Mike Campbell uncorked the soaring hurt of his lead line on “Good Enough,” off 2010’s cock-rocking Mojo, the swampiest of all this swamp rock, a strangled White Album-style blues as soaked though with humid misery as the cottonballs of a St. Louis grandmother used to wedge into the holes in her screen door each summer. Like much of that first hour, this was superb if you like this kind of thing.

Three songs in Petty half apologized for all the heartache, and he even offered up an ace “Won’t Back Down” as a sop to the Greatest Hits crowd. But make no mistake: There was no oversized novelty Mad Hatter headgear coming. During a soupy space jam deep into “Mr. Tweeter and the Monkey Man”– yes, the Traveling Wilburys slog he co-wrote with Bob Dylan — there was plenty of time to wonder at the impossible number of fucks that Petty does not give. You know all that dark matter scientists can’t find even though it makes up most of the mass of the universe? It’s nothing but those fucks.

Petty’s in fine voice — he still sounds like a cartoon sheep imitating a southern Bob Dylan — but even finer iconoclasm. The mood lightened, at last, 11songs in with a tempered, unplugged “Rebels,” a new arrangement touched with Sunday morning, followed by low-key string-band charmers “To Find a Friend” and “Angel Dream.” (Plus a hymn-like cover of Little Feat’s “Willin,'” honeyed up by Scott Thurston’s back-up vocals.)

Those were grand but topped by “Melinda,” a better Dylan song than the one he wrote with Dylan. Powered along by Campbell’s electric mandolin, this spare, rollicking, haunted original (only available on Petty’s excellent The Live Anthology) could pass for a cover of some long-gone folk song — a cover that builds into Bad Plus-style piano/drums not-quite-jazz ensemble-jamming mayhem from Benmont Tench and Steve Ferrone.

Hits “Refugee,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” and “American Girl” seemed to win back crowd members who had drifted; the Heartbreakers bashed out the latter two songs with speed and fire enough to convince us that they still find something new in them, that the music is something these guys still make together rather than something they just perform night after night.

Gnomic, cheerful Petty didn’t say much. His run of Beacon Shows won’t be for everyone, but they are for him, and his band, and for anyone eager to be reminded that the genial stoner of “Last Dance With Mary Jane” is still that same scrappy, indomitable Gainseville kid, the one with a screaming guitar and a world to defy.

Music video by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers performing Mary Jane’s Last Dance. (C) 1993 Geffen Records. Watch official video below.

© 2006 WMG
You Don’t Know How It Feels – Watch Video Version below.

Runnin’ Down A Dream is a 2007 documentary film about Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The 4-hour documentary chronicles the history of the band, from its inception as Mudcrutch, right up to the 30th-anniversary concert in Petty’s home town of Gainesville, Florida, on September 21, 2006, at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, University of Florida. The film features interviews with George Harrison, Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl, Jeff Lynne, Rick Rubin, Johnny Depp, Jackson Browne and more. Petty’s solo career is also touched on, as is his time with The Traveling Wilburys.

Tom Petty’s Career on Film: Watch the Trailer for “Runnin’ Down a Dream” below.

Ginger Baker was rock’s first superstar drummer and the most influential percussionist of the 1960s.

Ginger Baker: A Star Rock Drummer Famous for Talent and Mischief

Right at the beginning of the new documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker,” the film’s director, Jay Bulger, is attacked by his subject, the rock drummer Ginger Baker. Not verbally attacked, mind you — though there will be plenty of that — but physically, with a metal cane that draws blood when applied to the bridge of the filmmaker’s nose. Mr. Baker, whom we will subsequently encounter in less agitated moods, is upset about the direction of Mr. Bulger’s project.

“I don’t want those people in my film,” he shouts, though, like most of his utterances, this one is not fully quotable here.

“Those people” are fellow musicians who, in due course, show up on screen to testify to Mr. Baker’s artistic prowess and also to his less appealing traits. They include erstwhile band mates like Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Steve Winwood, and also fans and epigones like Stewart Copeland of the Police and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

Mr. Baker has never been, to understate the matter, an easy person to get along with, a point that “Beware of Mr. Baker” returns to as it follows him through four marriages, at least a half-dozen bands, roughly one million cigarettes and countless burned bridges. Animated sequences depict a ship, rowed by the drummer’s red-haired avatars, zigzagging the globe — from London to Nigeria to Los Angeles and other spots on the way to his current home in South Africa — leaving a trail of not entirely metaphorical smoldering wreckage.

The facts of Mr. Baker’s life describe a familiar tale of modest beginnings, early triumph, wild excess and at least partial recovery. After a wartime childhood during which his father was killed in action, Mr. Baker survived a rebellious adolescence, nearly two decades of heroin addiction and the standard diet of touring, feuding and sexual abandon that used to be synonymous with rock ’n’ roll. Now 73, he has aged but not necessarily mellowed, living in pastoral semi-seclusion with his family and dozens of dogs and polo ponies.

But Mr. Bulger, a former boxer and model before he turned to journalism and then filmmaking, does not let “Behind the Music” sensationalism overwhelm the music itself, which is Mr. Baker’s great passion and the only reason anyone should take an interest in him. Relying on the judgment of many experts — notably a squad of veteran drummers that includes Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Max Weinberg of the E Street Band, Neil Peart of Rush and many others — the film makes a persuasive argument that Mr. Baker was the greatest of all rock drummers.

Anticipated objections from the partisans of Keith Moon and John Bonham are brusquely answered: “No, no, no, no, no,” says Mr. Clapton, who survived two supergroups (Cream and Blind Faith) in Mr. Baker’s company.

For his part, Mr. Baker asserts: “If they were alive, ask them. They’d tell you I was better.”

The case for Mr. Baker is complicated by the fact that as awesome as Cream may have sounded if you were young and stoned in 1968, the band did not have the staying power of Led Zeppelin or the Who. Some of that had to do with trouble between Mr. Baker and Mr. Bruce, the bassist, but Cream was also, somehow, less than the sum of its prodigiously gifted parts.

Still, “Beware of Mr. Baker” invites you to listen again, and to attend to the rhythmic power and complexity that this drummer brought to the group’s thunderous (and often ponderous) variations on the rhythm and blues playbook.

Mr. Baker was a rocker, in a sense, by accident of birth and association. If you were young, musical and British in the 1960s, rock ’n’ roll was an irresistible career path, and Mr. Baker certainly, at least for a while, lived out the rock star legend to its fullest. But he was by taste and temperament more of a jazzman, captivated at an early age by African polyrhythms and the expansive approach of American drummers like Max Roach and Elvin Jones.

Rather than keeping the beat, Mr. Baker opened it up, adding layers and nuances without sacrificing his innate, unerring sense of time. He was wilder than steady rhythm players like Charlie Watts, and also far more disciplined and subtle than showboating wild men like Mr. Moon and Mr. Bonham.

And now, in his 70s, Mr. Baker is hardly in a mood for classic-rock nostalgia. “That was the birth of heavy metal,” he says of the Cream years. “It should have been aborted.”

Asked about his first impression of Mick Jagger, he responds with a summary, unpublishable judgment and a raised middle finger. An earlier videotaped interview shows him choking up with emotion when he speaks of Mr. Roach, Mr. Jones, Art Blakey and Phil Seamen, jazz idols who came to recognize him as a peer.

And in the 1970s, when he might have cashed in and become an arena-rock superstar, Mr. Baker went to Lagos to play with Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the great Nigerian singer, bandleader and political troublemaker, who at the time was very far from being the subject of a Broadway musical.

Mr. Bulger tracks down Mr. Baker’s friends, ex-wives, children and admirers to create a detailed portrait of a man who may not really be all that complicated. Artists with messy, ugly lives and less-than-admirable personalities are not as paradoxical as we sometimes think. At the drums, Mr. Baker is in control, and everything makes sense. The rest of it is the usual noise.

“Beware of Mr. Baker”
Written and directed by Jay Bulger; director of photography, Eric Robbins; edited by Abhay Sofsky; produced by Andrew Karsch, Fisher Stevens, Eric H. Gordon and Mr. Bulger; released by SnagFilms/Insurgent Media. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. This film is not rated.

“Beware of Mr. Baker” includes archival footage and animated sequences.
Published: November 27, 2012
The New York Times

Ginger Baker was rock’s first superstar drummer and the most influential percussionist of the 1960s.

The Rolling Stones Unearth Vintage Clips for ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ Trailer

Retrospective documentary covers the rockers’ entire career

The Rolling Stones – Crossfire Hurricane (Trailer)

Published on Sep 25, 2012 by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, the rock ‘n’ roll icons who have defined creativity, daring and durability, are to be chronicled in a kaleidoscopic new film that documents the key periods of their career and their incredible adventures.

The film will be broadcast live by satellite to over 250 cinemas across Europe, from the London Film Festival Premiere on Thursday 18 October and include live coverage from the red carpet before the film screening begins. For more information and to book tickets, go here:

‘Crossfire Hurricane’, directed by Brett Morgen, provides a remarkable new perspective on the Stones’ unparalleled journey from blues-obsessed teenagers in the early 60’s to rock royalty. It’s all here in panoramic candour, from the Marquee Club to Hyde Park, from Altamont to ‘Exile, from club gigs to stadium extravaganzas.

With never-before-seen footage and fresh insights from the band themselves, the film will delight, shock and amaze longtime devotees, as well as another generation of fans, with its uniquely immersive style and tone. ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ places the viewer right on the frontline of the band’s most legendary escapades.

Taking its title from a lyric in ‘Jumping Jack Flash’, ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ gives the audience an intimate insight, for the first time, into exactly what it’s like to be part of the Rolling Stones, as they overcame denunciation, drugs, dissensions and death to become the definitive survivors. It’s the backstage pass to outdo them all.

The odyssey includes film from the Stones’ initial road trips and first controversies as they became the anti-Beatles, the group despised by authority because they connected and communicated with their own generation as no one ever had. “When we got together,” says Wyman, “something magical happened, and no one could ever copy that.”

From the outset of the film, viewers know they’re in for a white-knuckle ride. No sooner had the early Stones line-up first played live under that name in the summer of 1962 than they were bigger than the venues that tried to hold them. Wyman remembers how the crowds were soon inspiring manic behaviour, especially among screaming girls, whose uncontrollable excitement was obvious as stardom beckoned for the band already earmarked as the bad guys with press headlines — ‘Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?

Riots and the chaos of early tours are graphically depicted, as is the birth of the Jagger-Richards songwriting partnership. The many dramas they encountered are also fully addressed, including the Redlands drug bust, the descent of Brian Jones into what Richards calls “bye-bye land,” and the terror and disillusionment of 1969’s Altamont Festival.

The film illustrates the Stones’ evolution from being, as Mick vividly describes it, “the band everybody hated to the band everybody loves”: through the hedonistic 1970s and Keith’s turning-point bust in Canada to the spectacular touring phenomenon we know today. Richards also reveals the song that he believes defines the “essence” of his writing relationship with Jagger more than any other.

Asked in a formative interview in the film what it is that sets them apart from other groups, Jagger says with quiet understatement: “A chemical reaction seems to have happened.” Keith Richards added, “You can’t really stop the Rolling Stones, you know when that sort of avalanche is facing you, you just get out of the way”. It’s been happening ever since, and the life and times of the Rolling Stones have never been as electrifyingly portrayed as they are in ‘Crossfire Hurricane.’

Worldwide distributors of ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ are Eagle Rock Entertainment in London, with Tremelo Productions and Milkwood Films as the production companies.

As befits the first rock band to reach the 50-year milestone with their global stature now greater than ever, the film combines extensive historical footage, much of it widely unseen, with contemporary commentaries by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and former Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor. Period interviews, extensive live performance material and news archive give the production a truly kinetic aura and no-holds-barred approach. ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ has taken over a year to make and produce with the full cooperation of The Rolling Stones and will be released in November.