August 4, 2005

Heartbreakers strong at summer concert box office

By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers are
putting up some of the biggest numbers of their career this
summer, averaging more than 16,500 people a night in
attendance, according to Billboard Boxscore.

Perhaps more importantly, the band is having a great time
on the road.

"We enjoy playing with each other, which I think is a
pretty important part of this," Petty told "If
we didn't, we'd have given it up a long time ago. The idea when
we started was to take five people and keep 'em together no
matter what and see what we could get out of it, and we've
pretty much stuck to that plan."

Petty and the Heartbreakers have been together nearly 30
years now, compiling a huge list of hit songs and fan favorites
in the process. Such an arsenal of songs can make paring them
down for a set list challenging.

"We have a set list, but we work up a lot more (songs) than
we're gonna do," Petty said. "That way we can throw things in
and change it around, especially if we're in a place for two
days. It's good to keep yourself interested. The last show we
did five songs we never rehearsed and that certainly sparked us

Petty's history with the band leads to an instinctive
alchemy on stage. "The Heartbreakers are one of those rare
groups (where) I can really throw them something and they'll go
for it and they'll pull it off," he said. "I have this really
deep faith in them that they're gonna read me and follow me.
That comes from all those years of playing together."

Petty and the Heartbreakers' 2005 dates will wrap Sept. 2-3
in George, Wash., with no plans to extend the tour. Fans can
satisfy their Petty cravings with the oral memoir
"Conversations with Tom Petty," written by Paul Zollo, which is
due in bookstores in November via Omnibus Press.

Additionally, Petty manager Tony Dimitriades said a new
album is due early next year, the band's first since "The Last
DJ" came out in October 2002.

"Look out for next year -- that's the 30th anniversary,"
Petty said. "We're gonna party."