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Soundstage:
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

153 minutes (E) 2004
widescreen ratio 16:9
Warner / Black Hill DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Emma French
One of the truly great American live bands, and with the status of genuine legends after 30 years in the business, this double disc release brings together 22 glorious and superbly executed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tracks with a full second disc of bonus material.

Tom Petty's surreal acting appearance in Kevin Costner's critic-unfriendly turkey The Postman suggested that he should definitely not quit the music day job, and this disc certainly sees him returning to what he does best. Dry, ponderous and at times rather pretentious, as many PBS Specials sadly are, there is a regrettable lack of onstage banter during this concert recording from Petty, a past master of the art. His most celebrated onstage ramblings include a description of impatiently desiring the return to health of his guitar hand after smashing it through a wall, as a delightfully eccentric narrative prelude to The Waiting.

Several of the real classics are here, including Refugee and You Wreck Me (which also respectively form the climaxes to the 11-song strong first and second sections of disc one), as well as some of Tom Petty's most well-loved solo material such as I Won't Back Down and the fantastic track Handle With Care from his stint in 'super-group' The Travelling Wilburys. It is also brave and exciting of the band to use the special as both an airing for new tracks such as Black Leather Woman and for covers of much-loved songs like Little Red Rooster.

However, the omission of so many of their greatest tracks is inevitably disappointing. Although the DVD exhibits all the strengths of the band's live performance, it would have been even better as a package with a DVD of their music videos: the seminal Alice In Wonderland spoof Don't Come Around Here No More, the post-apocalyptic Mad Max styling of You Got Lucky.

Time has not been kind to the Heartbreakers, not that Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell's looks have ever necessarily given Brad Pitt sleepless nights. Tom Petty's trademark blond locks mesh uncomfortably with his careworn face. He is half surfer dude, half Abe Simpson. Anyone primarily familiar with them from their seminal 1980s' music videos will get quite a jolt at their more mature appearance on this production.

The second disc contains six official bonus tracks and also some "hidden tracks from the last DJ at the Olympic," including the excellent Like A Diamond. The sound quality on the concert DVD is fantastic and the discs have language options of English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. All round this is a well-constructed package, which any Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fan will want in their home collection.
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