Norah Jones, Jesse Malin, Evan Dando and More Celebrate Tom Petty in New York
If there's one musician most rock fans can all agree on, it's Tom Petty. Thursday night at New York's Bowery Ballroom, Norah Jones, two 'Saturday Night Live' cast members, one Strokes bassist and Reeve Carney, the dude getting ready to play the lead in U2's 'Spider-Man' musical, were among the artists on hand for this year's 'Petty Fest,' a celebration of the man's 60th birthday.
The format was simple: A core sextet of house musicians, the Cabin Down Below Band, played spot-on covers of 27 Petty tunes, allowing singers to filter out individually or in small groups and indulge in some choice karaoke action. Petty's catalog is just right for boozing and wailing, and most guests were happy to do both.
Jones stayed on longer than any artist, although she was woefully underutilized on four of her six tunes. The nine-time Grammy winner first lent her voice to a trio of female background singers, then tried in vain to find her way into 'Walls' and 'It's Good to Be King,' both of which featured hometown weirdo Adam Green, formerly of the Moldy Peaches, on lead vocals.
On 'It's Time to Move On' and 'You Don't Know How It Feels' -- tunes befitting of her laidback singing style -- Jones and her short, shiny green party dress finally had the spotlight they deserved.
Other highlights included local hero Jesse Malin's characteristically energetic takes on 'American Girl' and 'I Need to Know,' Nikolai Fraiture's decidedly non-Strokes-like 'I Won't Back Down' and Fountains of Wayne guitarist Jody Porter's Who-evoking 'Love Is a Long Road.' 'SNL' chums Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis -- twinsies in plaid western shirts -- bleated out credible versions of 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around' and 'Even the Losers.'
Among the unannounced special guests were Evan Dando, whose song selection, 'A Face in the Crowd,' was a bit more impressive than his acoustic performance, and Har Mar Superstar, who presided over the can't-fail, first-class fist-pumper 'Refugee.'
The night was filled with such songs, as most artists wisely picked from Petty's 'Greatest Hits,' perhaps the best best-of in rock history. While the man himself never showed up, the evening's entire lineup took the stage for three encores, ending with the mother of all Petty sing-alongs, 'Free Fallin'.'
That tune, perhaps more than any other in the singer's catalog, offers hope for world peace. Wherever folks can listen while beating on their steering wheels, they might stop beating on one another. http://www.spinner.com/2010/10/29/tom-petty-fest-new-york/<\/u><\/a>