The Best Bootleg Ever? – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers Dazzle The Fillmore In ‘97
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers may have released their career-spanning Live Anthology in 2009, but for the fans that were in attendance at San Francisco’s esteemed Fillmore on February 7, 1997 that concert might be the true definition of their tenure as performers.
Petty and Co. played for well over three hours that evening, letting loose a 40-song set that included an appearance by John Lee Hooker and a mind-numbing 23 covers. The finale in a 20-show run at the Fillmore, the show was broadcast over the radio, allowing for bootleggers to easily obtain what has become an oft-circulated recording of the concert with a very good sound quality. The set list including work from each phase of the Heartbreakers’ career to that point, ranging from a beautifully-arranged acoustic cover of “Even The Losers,” a memorable “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and “That Date I Had With That Ugly Old Homecoming Queen,” an unreleased diamond in the rough penned by guitar player Mike Campbell.
One of the primary reasons the evening has endured as a classic show were the 23 covers, or 58% of the set. Three of those songs came from Hooker’s sit-in with the Heartbreakers, “Boogie Chillin’”, “Serves You Right To Suffer,” and “I Found My Baby.” The band themselves were responsible for a slick version of Booker T. and the MG’s “Green Onions,” Richard Berry’s “Louie, Louie,” and Bo Diddley’s “Diddy Wah Diddy.” The Heartbreakers also managed to pull off the unusual, yet tremendous pairing of The Rice Brothers’ campground song “You Are My Sunshine” with Bill Withers’ timeless “Ain’t No Sunshine.” A personal favorite and likely the best moment of the show comes from the band’s cover of Them’s “Gloria,” a song which Petty has made into his own through a perfect interaction with the audience.
What makes this recording stand out from most other bootlegs is that it perfectly encapsulates the Heartbreakers’ prowess as musicians on a night where they seem to clearly be enjoying themselves. Their ability to seamlessly drift from cover to cover and deliver a show for the ages despite playing so little original material speaks to the Heartbreakers’ abilities as band.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Gloria”: