Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers


October 15 & 16, 2002
Olympic Auditorium
Los Angeles, CA


An eyewitness road report from Ken Wait

Hi everybody! Busy month for Pettyheads, eh? Saw the 10/15 on the big screen, but the stereo mix wasn't even "monoed-out." Even worse, we got the right channel only through the center speakers! So TP was louder than loud & all you heard from MC was the (same, sad) echo & reverb only! Even worse, my San Diego affiliate (KPRI - the only "last Dj's" in lo-cal ) *did not* simulcast live (or even delayed), so my tape (I set a timer) has 3 hours of studio Petty, Sheryl Crow, Chris Issak, DMB etc... Sounds good, but nothing special... 10/16 was another matter, altogether. We arrived early & I chose not to try & "stealth-record" the show, which is a damn good thing, because the LA search had me *empty my pockets*, among other hassles. Not since GnR & IceT's Body Count in '92 (the height of "Cop Killer" backlash) had I been so "examined" on the way into a show. There's *no way* I'd've made it in with my dat.

Our "nosebleeds" were two seats right above the orchestra! What a view we had! Better still, the Olympic is kinda' octogon-shaped & we were right on the corner & for some reason the put no seats in front of us. I'm more of a taper/stoner quiet-type @ shows, but it was *so cool* to have the option to dance right in front of folks who preferred to sit down & not obstruct anyone's view. Before I forget, he played 2 covers in the 2nd set that were not part of the simulcast the night before (Shake, Rattle & Roll/Around & 'Round). Other than Jim Ladd's absence, the sets were virtually identical. 10/16's The Last DJ was a clearly better vocal performance from TP (technical glitches aside). 10/15's "Man Who Loves Women" was the keeper for the vocals @ the end. Actually, the very first moment I didn't miss Howie was during "Man Who Loves Women" on 10/15/02. 10/16's "Joe" featured cool shades like on Tues & there was some nasty feedback during "Money Becomes King."

I can't tell y'all how cool it was to watch the orchestra when they *were not* playing. All eyes were on the stage, even though they probably couldn't see too well from stage right. Also neat, was to see who played what when. Like on "Dreamville", first the cellos, then the 3rd violins, etc... "When A Kid Goes Bad" featured horns & woods only (if memory serves me correct). "When A Kid Goes Bad", "Lost Children" & "Lance Dance With Mary Jane" really brought down the house. Some "Pettyisms" from Wed included "What do I know, I'm just a gi'-tar player?" & presumably someone shouted "Petty for President!" & his response: "Oh No! I'm the *last guy* you want to be president!" "Blue Sunday" is my current favorite, largely due to seeing it live. But make no mistake, "Can't Stop The Sun" *is* the best song on the record, maybe ever ...(followed by "Money Becomes King," "Have Love," "Lost Children," "Joe" & "When A Kid Goes Bad" in that order, imho).

Our commutes on Tue & Wed were in San Diego & LA, respectively & I don't know who in the world was watching over our karma, but we cut through rush hour on some of the USA's most notorious gridlock like a warm knife through butter. The venue holds 7000, but (props to TP&HB) there were no more than 3000+ tickets to sell, because they refused to sell obstructed view & JB's "Big Money Orchestra" took up as much as the center stage, itself. We had blackened calamari tacos from Taco Mesa (featuring both red & blue corn tortillas) for lunch. If any of you are familiar with a chain called "Rubios," they wish they were half as good as our local "TM" & Hollywood's "Torung" has the best Thai east of Shanghai (unless you prefer the trendier & pricier "Toi") mint-leafs tofu & spicy shrimp salad were part of a perfect after-show dinner.

Leaving the parking lot was also unforgettable. The Grand Oly Auditorium I remember as a child, was the home for the LA T-Birds roller derby team (grandaddy of the WWE). Getting out of this parking lot with an audience of 3k would be no trick, but all gates open & no flashlit escort, I was content to wait my turn & stare @ the "LAST DJ" projected in 50 feet of light on the side of the building. All of the sudden, some guy leans out of his car like I was his long, lost buddy & yells, "DUDE!!!" While I'm trying to determine if he's from SD & I don't recognize him, or maybe he sat next to us, I figure out he's pointing at our car! (white 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria station wagon). He looks @ his buddy (who's driving) & says: "Battlewagon's in the house!!! Country Squire!!! Dude, ya' gotta' let 'im go!!!!!!" And we were given the right of way, all the way... I've only seen TP&HB in a smaller venue twice, (6/1-2/01) but these were worse seats (the Joint was G/A) with a *way better* view. I feel like this was a twice in a lifetime-type show. We're on for 10/29 SDSU Open Air Theatre & also have Aladdin & Forum tix. Have mics, will stealth.

God Bless Tom Petty...

-ps- Happy b-day Mr. Wilbury!

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