The Memorable Events On Tom Petty’s Run At SF Fillmore
Tom Petty's last performance, 2017 - Skip Coomber / Youtube
Among the many unforgettable performances of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was their 20-date residency at the Fillmore in San Francisco. The shows ran from January to February 1997 and included some of the most diverse setlists of the band and countless musicians who helped them perform it.
Nothing was stopping them, all their worries that the people may not like what they’ve got were erased, and their main focus was to be free and let loose all the negativity. The stars of the show included some of rock’s classic hits such as Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil,” and even Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” They’ve sworn to themselves that for every night they went on stage, no redundancy would be done.
In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, guitarist Mike Campbell said how the band managed to pull off the non-repetitive performance. “We changed the songs every night and took some liberties with some of the arrangements here and there,” he said. “I’m really glad we got that on tape. Of course, we had some guest artists like John Lee Hooker, Roger McGuinn, Bo Diddley,” he added.
One of the reasons why the band never had the pressure to please anyone but themselves was because Fillmore could only hold 1,200 people present, therefore, giving them an up-close experience they wouldn’t forget.
“We played everything that came across our minds,” Petty admitted inside Conversations with Tom Petty back in 2005. “One night we played for four hours – which really isn’t like the Heartbreakers. But we just got into a groove, and it went fine. The encore was an hour and a half. And it was great, because it was intimate.” Petty said that the small crowd helped them develop a liberating feeling, which was lacking in big coliseums.
Some of the live recordings may be heard from the band’s The Live Anthology box set released in 2009. In February 2022, Campbell announced that there is an upcoming box set that will cater for the performance of the Heartbreakers for that event.
You can listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” below.