Seeing the Strokes at the Hollywood Bowl sounded like an excellent way to spend a Tuesday night, but seeing the Strokes open for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the Hollywood Bowl...prepare for thermonuclear blastoff meltdown.
The Strokes started it up with the drowsy "Is This It" under purple lights and blacked out the stage at the end of every song. Guys, you're gorgeous, what are you hiding from? "You Only Live Once," "Hard To Explain" and "Someday" slayed as expected, and the rest of the set was filled out with songs from First Impressions of Earth like "Vision of Division" and "Red Light" that never made much of an impression—the first time or otherwise. We've never been that big on "Reptila" from Room On Fire, but it finally clicked in its role as a set closer. Julian Casablancas is a notorious mumbler when it comes to his stage banter, but when he said he couldn't wait to get stoned and get his mind blown by Tom Petty, we heard him loud and clear.
Petty has a new album out called Highway Companion, but this tour is more about the 30th anniversary of the Heartbreakers getting together, so the nearly two hour performance was basically Hitsville USA. They started with the thriller fourplay of "Listen to Her Heart," "Last Dance With Mary Jane," "I Won't Back Down" and "Free Fallin'" before retreating into some blues covers. Petty looked ecstatic and when he said that the band had more ex-girlfriends backstage than they could handle, it was like, "Uh, dude, can you stop making our dads look so uncool?" Ultimate fantasy spinster aunt Stevie Nicks came to the stage to duet on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and "Insider," do some backup vocal duty and handle the lead for "I Need To Know," and that was about as amazing as you'd expect. Jeff Lynne came aboard for the Traveling Wilburys joint "Handle Me With Care," "Learning to Fly" got a Tracy Chapman-esque treatment and "Don't Come Around Here No More" was as major as the first time we saw Petty spit it out on MTV while dressed as the Mad Hatter. We hoped the encore would be the Strokes joining him to jam out to their "Last Night" and then easily transitioning into Petty's "American Girl." That didn't happen, but Petty did play his classic road anthem to close out the night. When it was over, all we could think about was going to the Roost, sitting in a booth with a Jack & ginger and a bag of popcorn, and programming all of Damn the Torpedoes into the jukebox. Then again we think about that (and do it) pretty regularly, even when Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers aren't in town.