I want to start this blog post with an admission. I am a huge Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers fan. I have seen them in concert multiple times over the last 20 years or so and own all the albums. When I saw that they were kicking off their new tour here in San Diego I hoped to not only go to the show but maybe photograph it as well. Well, the tour kicked off last Sunday night at the Viejas Arena and not only did I go to the show, but I photographed the first three from the pit. It was a great night of music… and photography.

The show started promptly at 7:30 with an hour-long set by Steve Winwood. Those photos will be up soon. Tom Petty and The Heatbreakers did not have a huge stage setup. There show is not about crazy lights and big productions. The show is about straightforward rock ‘n roll and they delivered a great tour opener.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Waiting in the photo pit for the lights to go down and the show to start. Not a lot of stuff on the stage but the piano setup was big and very difficult to shoot around or over.

Tom_Petty_The _Heartbreakers_0003

The band took the stage. The lights came up and it was time for so rock ‘ roll.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

This might be my favorite shots of the night. At the end of “So You Want To Be A Rock’nRoll Star” Tom started to raise his guitar in a salute to the crowd. I zoomed out and made sure I got the whole guitar in the frame. It was only after I was looking at the images on the computer did I notice that I could see Tom’s refection in the back of the guitar.  I had spent the first song working from the edge of the stage towards the middle.

The band started to play the first notes of Mary Jane’s Last Dance. As my friend Theresa mentioned later… The whole venue ‘lit up” at that point. The band sounded great. Tom was smiling and dancing around the stage.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

After Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Tom took a few moments to talk about the new album and to launch into the third and final song for the photographers; American Dream Part B. It’s a good song that sounded great live. I spent this song trying to get some last images. Not sure when the opportunity to shoot this Rock ‘ Roll hall of fame band would come back.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / 2014

The song was over. Time to go lock the gear up and get back in time for I won’t Back Down…

For the rest of the show I just enjoyed the music.

 Set list for those that are interested.

  • So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star( The Byrds cover )
  • Mary Jane’s Last Dance
  • American Dream Plan B
  • Into The Great Wide Open
  • Forgotten Man
  • I Won’t Back Down
  • Free Fallin’
  • Spike
  • Tweeter and The Monkey Man (Traveling Wilburys cover)
  • U Get Me High
  • Rebels
  • To Find A Friend
  • Willin’ (Little Feat cover)
  • Learning to Fly
  • Shadow People
  • I Should Have Known It
  • Refugee
  • Runnin’ Down A Dream
  •        Encore:
  • You Wreck Me
  • American Girl

All photos taken with Nikon D4 and Nikon D700, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 and saved to Hoodman Raw CompactFlash and Sony XQD memory cards.

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