Tom Petty promised the crowd of about 10,000 gathered to see him at Intrust Bank Arena on Thursday that he would travel deep into his song library.
And Petty, along with his band The Heartbreakers, kept the promise, delivering many of their most popular radio hits – and there are a lot of those – as well as several more obscure songs that span Petty’s 25-plus-year career.
“It’s about time we got to Wichita, Kansas, I’ll tell you,” Petty said as he took the stage.
Wearing a blue suit with skinny trousers, his signature long blonde hair and a bushy beard, Petty took the stage to loud applause. The 61-year-old singer seemed to revel in it, at one point standing alone under a blinding spotlight, holding his hands straight up in the air and turning in circles as the crowd screamed.
He opened the show with his 1978 song “Listen to Her Heart,” which he immediately followed with “You Wreck Me,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Here Comes My Girl.” Early in the show, he and the band also performed “Handle With Care,” one of Petty’s hits when he played with The Traveling Wilburys.
Wichita was only the fourth stop on the band’s 2012 tour, and Petty and crew strayed Thursday night from the near-identical sets they delivered Saturday in Little Rock and Tuesday in Albuquerque.
Wichita got not only “It’s Good to Be King,” from the 1994 album “Wildflowers,” but also “Have Love Will Travel,” a song from the 2002 album “The Last DJ” that Petty said he performed just because he liked it.
“People ask me, ‘What’s your favorite song?’” Petty said. “There isn’t really an answer because there are so many. But this is one of my favorite ones. It’s not a well known one or anything, but I’m going to play it because I feel like playing it.”
The crowd erupted when Petty performed “Free Fallin’,” and it was the first of many crowd sing-alongs.
Petty’s long-time guitar player Mike Campbell, whom he introduced as “one of my oldest friends in my life,” had many standout moments, including a scene-stealing solo in “It’s Good to Be King.”
Later in the set, Petty performed an acoustic version of “Learning to Fly,” and he closed the show with two of his most popular hits, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “American Girl.”
Singer Regina Spektor, known for her hit “Fidelity,” was the opening act. She performed the majority of her set behind her grand piano, where she proved she could play as well as she could sing.
Listen to Denise Neil talk more about the Tom Petty concert at 9 a.m.today on B-98-FM’s “Brett & Tracy” show.