Music » Critics' Picks

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

7 p.m. Thursday, August 7. Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights

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It's a rare occurrence to find someone who doesn't like Tom Petty, which makes him the exception in the rock & roll pantheon. (Even the Beatles and Dylan have haters.) Over the course of his nearly 40-year career, the straw-haired troubadour from Gainesville, Florida, has released eighteen albums, either solo or with his band the Heartbreakers. His hits are too numerous to count, although iconic songs "Free Fallin'" and "American Girl" have become American songbook standards. Such well-documented artistic and commercial success makes Petty's harebrained scheme to reunite his teenage band Mudcrutch last year seem a little far-fetched. But the resulting self-titled album — which was recorded live with no overdubs over two weeks at Petty's Malibu practice space — was refreshing and urgent, like the band picked up exactly where it left off in the early '70s. This type of modest, no-nonsense approach to music has fueled Petty throughout his entire career — and explains why he's never had a contingent of naysayers challenging his relevance or influence.

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