Arroyo Seco Weekend: Robert Plant thrills with Led Zeppelin songs and solo material

The second year of Arroyo Seco Weekend wrapped up with Kings Of Leon getting the last notes of the festival but it was an elder statesman of rock, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who delivered the most thrilling set on Sunday.

Kings Of Leon are huge, of course, their brand of American rock and roll built for arenas, or sprawling festival fields like the grounds around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

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The three Followill brothers — singer Caleb, drummer Nathan and bassist Jared — and cousin and lead guitarist Matthew Followill play with plenty of passion even if they’re a bit faceless as performers.

But Kings Of Leon’s best songs, such as “Use Somebody,” played 45 minutes into their 80 minutes on stage, and “Sex On Fire,” which closed the show, have an undeniable epic nature that’s very appealing, while slower more introspective numbers such as “Arizona” and “Walls” were lovely in both message and music.

But really, how can any number of Kings compete with Planty, whose hour-plus on stage with his Sensational Space Shifters delivered vintage blues, classic Led Zep, and Plant’s still-strong solo work?

He opened with Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song,” one that taps into the American blues that inspired him and so many other British musicians in the early ’60s, and quickly proved that no one can wail or sing a run of baby-baby-babies like Plant can.

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

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  • Festival goers listen to Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Festival goers listen to Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters perform at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Aaron Neville performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

  • Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

    Irma Thomas performs at the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

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(At the end of the song someone threw a lemon on stage for him, promoting him to note a song or two later, “So this is my prize after 50 years of Coming over here? A small piece of citrus fruit?”)

Other Led Zeppelin early in the set included “What Is and What Never Should Be” and a beautiful version of “Going To California.” But Plant’s own work holds its own with songs such as “Turn It Up” and “Carry Fire” capturing the blues and Moroccan influences, respectively, he’s lived so long.

But given the demographics there to watch him and his truly sensational band it made sense that he’d give them plenty of what they know best, and so late in the set came a 10-minute take on “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” a Joan Baez song that Zeppelin made its own.

“Funny In My Mind,” another bluesy original, closed out the main set and unlike almost any other non-headliner, Plant got an encore, which resulted in a fantastic run through of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

At 69, Plant is strong of voice and performs with a gleam in his eye that suggests he’s still having a blast. Here’s hoping he liked this Goldenvoice-produced festival enough to consider a long-wished-for Zeppelin reunion to anchor a return of the promoters’ Desert Trip, right?

Other nighttime performances included Aaron Neville, whose gorgeous voice was put to use on covers such as “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Fever,” as well as the Neville Brothers’ “Yellow Moon” and his own “Tell It Like It Is.”

And, representing the ’90s alternative scene, Third Eye Blind attracted a large and very enthusiastic crowd to the Sycamore stage to sing along on songs such as “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life.”

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Arroyo Seco Weekend 2018: Neil Young calls audibles to close out opening day

Neil Young and Promise of the Real closed out the first day of Arroyo Seco Weekend with a set that was a little bit shambling in its structure, a whole lot of wonderful in the music it presented and absolutely what you expect and want to get from the artist his much younger bandmates refer to as Uncle Neil.

Young has always done what he wants and if that means opening his headlining performance on Saturday with an 18-minute version of “Like An Inca” of his 1982 album “Trans,” well, that’s what he’s gonna do.

If it means following that lovely drawn-out number with a raucous song we can only refer to in this publication as “(Bleepin’) Up,” then have at it.

And if it means flying by the seat of Uncle Neil’s pants, with occasional delays to figure out which song and guitar come next because Young and the band decided not to write a set list, then celebrate that as putting a welcome dose of spontaneity back in rock and roll.

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“You know, we just didn’t do a set list because … it’s a list, that’s why,” Young said late in the two hours he played. And if that makes sense to him then who are we to question why?

“Cortez The Killer” was another early highlight, Young’s lyrical guitar soloing adding beauty as the notes took flight. And while he started to play “Lotta Love” in tribute to “all the kids out there, kids in cages,” only to halt it because the guitar wasn’t right, he made up for it with a version of “I Am A Child,” originally done by Buffalo Springfield, and then played “Lotta Love,” a beautiful acoustic gem off 1978’s “Comes A Time” anyway.

Lukas Nelson, singer and guitarist in Promise Of The Real, who’ve toured as Young’s band for the last few years, sang a number, as did his brother Micah Nelson. Both are sons of Young’s longtime buddy Willie Nelson.

But the big, epic rock songs were what thrilled the most, from “Rockin’ In The Free World,” moved up from its usual place at the end of Young’s shows, to “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and “Powderfinger,” which closed out the main set, two classics off 1979’s “Rust Never Sleeps.”

For his encore Young played “Ohio,” one of his contributions to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and “Down By The River,” which rocked out for more than 10 minutes, before ending the night jumping up and down with grins and embraces with the band at the end of “Roll Another Number (For The Road).”

Just before Young’s closing set Jack White played a strong 90-minute set on the same stage, mixing his solo material with a very healthy dose of White Stripes classics, at times switching back and forth from song to song.

Jack White performs on day one of the Arroyo Seco Weekend music festival on Saturday, June 23, 2018. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
Jack White performs on day one of the Arroyo Seco Weekend music festival on Saturday, June 23, 2018. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

“Lazaretto,” the title track of a solo album, was quickly followed by the White Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba” early in his main stage set. “I Cut Like A Buffalo” from his time in the Dead Weather was followed by the Stripes’ “My Doorbell.”

White and his band was as tight as ever, and while he’s not as goofily chatty as Young, their shared love of a huge guitar solo made for a thrilling performance capped by the White Stripes’ signature song “Seven Nation Army.”

The only other nighttime performance to mention was a crowd-pleasing turn by the Specials who raced through classics from “Do The Dog” and “Gangsters” to “Rat Race” and “Doesn’t Make It Alright” sounding terrific and motivating most of the crowd to get up and dance like crazy.

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Tom Petty, Alabama Shakes and actor Jeff Goldblum among the highlights of Day 1 at Arroyo Seco Weekend

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have 40 years on the books now — that’s the point of the band’s current tour — so it almost seemed unfair Saturday to get only 19 songs in a headlining set on the first day of the inaugural Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena.

But that ended up making for two hours of music, and in the end, the fans who packed — and we mean packed — the festival grounds in front of the Oaks Stage (more on that in a bit) probably heard most of the hits they came for.

It was a strong finish to a solid opening day that featured classic soul from the likes of Alabama Shakes and Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, fine indie rock from Broken Social Scene, and a handful of jazz acts like the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and actor Jeff Goldblum and his band the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.

Petty opened the night with “Rockin’ Around (With You),” a nod to the band’s history, with Petty noting that it was “the first song on the first album we ever did.” Up next, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” an outtake from a Petty solo album that came out on a Heartbreakers greatest-hits collection. Confusing? Not really. The Petty solo records were always practically Heartbreakers albums in all but name.

And that’s how they were treated Saturday, with solo hits such as “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “I Won’t Back Down” fitting neatly around a Heartbreakers classic like “You Got Lucky.”

“We’re going to try one here that we haven’t played in about 30 years,” Petty said by way of introducing “Into the Great Wide Open,” from the 1991 album of the same name. “By that I mean we haven’t rehearsed it, either.”

No worries, it sounded great, and the crowd sang along loudly on the choruses, as it did on many songs in the set. By my reckoning “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’” had the biggest crowd choral accompaniment early in the set, with maybe “Yer So Bad” and “Refugee” the biggest in the back half.

“Yer So Bad,” when it arrived, provided a welcome boost of energy. It followed three from the “Wildflowers” album — “It’s Good to Be King” in a version that might have gone on a bit longer than it needed to, “Crawling Back to You” and the title track. They’re good songs, a bit more folk than the earlier stuff, but they slowed the pace a bit, which at the end of a long, hot day was dangerous.

Also threatening the good vibes of Petty’s set was the gridlock of the crowd. Festival organizers didn’t book any acts opposite Petty, choosing to close down the two other stages, which is fine, but that also meant everyone on the festival grounds tried to squeeze into a space that was too narrow to accommodate them — especially given that many, many people came with blankets and lawn chairs and staked out spots — large spots — on the lawn in front of the Oaks stage.

It was my one main gripe on a day that overall flowed smoothly, and Petty’s set closed on a strong run of songs that made me forgive those problems: “Refugee,” one of the early classics by the band, and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” wrapped up the main set, before an encore of “You Wreck Me” and “American Girl.”

***

Sunset was for soul at Arroyo Seco Weekend as a handful of artists, mostly older, took to the three different stages to sing their hearts and heartaches out.

Alabama Shakes was the younger, newer band in the genre on the bill, but we’ll come back to them in a bit. Instead, let’s give the older guys their due first.

Roy Ayers is the 76-year-old vibraphonist who more or less turned jazz fusion in a new direction in the ‘70s and created what came to be known as neo-soul, a blend of the classic sound mixed with jazz and funk and whatever else a musician wanted to add. In the Willows tent, he and his current band played hits such as “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and “Running Away.”

Over on the Sycamore stage, after a strong set by the Canadian collective Broken Social Scene — which previewed songs from its upcoming “Hug of Thunder” album, assisted by guests including Emily Haines of Metric — Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires arrived to deliver the rawest, most emotional set of old-school soul you could hope to hear.

Back in the Willows tent, longtime Stax Records soul man William Bell and his 11-piece band were tearing it up in front of a criminally small crowd, many of them already headed to the Oaks stage for Alabama Shakes. Bell gave it his all, and at 77, his voice is as terrific as ever. He sang hits from his catalog such as “Private Number” and “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” a song Bell wrote and recorded that has been covered often by everyone from Otis Redding and the Byrds to Peter Tosh and the Wailers

You should have been there for Bell (catch him elsewhere if you can), but the modern soul of 28-year-old Brittany Howard, the singer-guitarist for Alabama Shakes, and her band mates, made that a truly hard choice.

Howard sounded fantastic and the band was sharp, as always, on songs such as “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Sound & Color,” and you just know she and the other Shakes would have loved to have caught Ayers, Bradley and Bell if they could have.

Closing out the sunset run were the Meters, New Orleans-bred pioneers of funk with roots back to the ’60s, but there’s certainly soul in that gumbo, too.

***

It’s surely a different kind of music festival when actor Jeff Goldblum and his band, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, draw a sitting-room-only crowd to the tent where they’re playing Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk straight-ahead jazz on a hot and humid afternoon in Pasadena.

But that’s the point of the Arroyo Seco Weekend.

Goldblum came out alone and told the crowd, which now was standing, “After we’re done I’m going to come out and take pictures with every one of you. I’m like Vito Corleone on his daughter’s wedding day. There’s no request I can refuse.”

He also did a bit of Jeff Goldblum movie trivia and a round of Who’d You Rather (Christopher Walken or Viggo Mortensen), and then it was time “for that hot jazz that all the kids are crazy for.”

Absolutely wonderful: great music, silly fun, sometimes both — a bossa nova version of Petty’s “American Girl” anyone? — and the highlight of the first half of the day.

Arroyo Seco Weekend

Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena

When: June 24-25

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How Arroyo Seco Weekend compares to Coachella, Stagecoach, Desert Trip

Here’s how Goldenvoice’s newest Southern California festival stacks up to its most recent onesRead more about How Arroyo Seco Weekend compares to Coachella, Stagecoach, Desert Trip This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers deliver the hits to a packed crowd at Arroyo Seco Weekend

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have 40 years on the books now — that’s the point of the band’s current tour — so it almost seems unfair to only get 19 songs in a headlining set on the first day of the inaugural Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena on Saturday, June 24.

But that ended up making for two hours of music, and in the end the fans who packed the festival grounds in front of the Oaks Stage — and we really mean packed; more on that in a bit — probably heard most of the hits they came for.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers perform during the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Pasadena. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers perform during the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Pasadena. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

“Rockin’ Around (With You)” opened up the night, a nod to the band’s history, with Petty noting it was “the first song on the first album we ever did.” Up next, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” an outtake from a Petty solo album that came out on a Heartbreakers’ greatest hits collection. Confusing? Not really, the Petty solo records were always practically Heartbreakers’ albums in all but name.

Related: These photos show you what it’s like to be at Arroyo Seco Weekend

And that’s how they were treated on Saturday, with solo hits such as “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “I Won’t Back Down” fitting neatly around a Heartbreakers’ classic like “You Got Lucky.”

Most of these guys have been playing together for decades: Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench go back to Mudcrutch, the band they were in before they became the Heartbreakers, and the others have been in and out of the band for years, with Petty joking during the band introductions that drummer Steve Ferrone, who’s only been in the group for 23 years, is the new guy.

So they sounded as sharp and tight as you’d imagine. The keyboards and bass that open “You Got Lucky” in such an instantly recognizable fashion were terrific. And even the introduction of a new song in place of “Walls,” which has held a spot midway through the set on most dates on the current tour, went flawlessly.

“We’re going to try one here that we haven’t played in about 30 years,” Petty said by way of introducing that “Into The Great Wide Open” from the 1991 album of the same name. “By that I mean we haven’t rehearsed it, either.”

Related: From Jeff Goldblum to Alabama Shakes, these are the musical highlights from opening day of Arroyo Seco Weekend

No worries, it sounded great, and the crowd sang along loudly on the choruses as they did on many songs in the set. By my reckoning “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’” had the biggest crowd choral accompaniment early in the set, with maybe “Yer So Bad” and “Refugee” the biggest in the back half.

“Yer So Bad,” when it arrived, provided a welcome boost of energy to the set. It followed three from the “Wildflowers” album — “It’s Good To Be King” in a version that might have gone on a bit longer than it needed, “Crawling Back To You,” and the title track. They’re good songs, a bit more folk than the earlier stuff, and backing vocals of the Webb Sisters were lovely, but it slowed down the pace a bit, which at the end of a long, hot day was dangerous.

Also threatening the good vibes of Petty’s set was the cluster-mess of the crowd. Festival organizers didn’t book any acts opposite Petty, choosing to close down the two other stages, which is fine, but that also meant everyone on the festival grounds tried to squeeze into a space that was too narrow to accommodate them — especially given that many, many people came with blankets and lawn chairs and staked out spots — large spots — on the lawn in front of the Oaks stage.

Related: Arroyo Seco Weekend is the hometown festival you actually want to go to

Traffic flow ground to a halt, and the search for a good spot to watch, and hear, Petty and the Heartbreakers was a challenge. I moved around a few times, trying to find a spot where the sound wasn’t muffled, eventually moving back beyond the rear speakers in order to get a clearer audio feed.

“Refugee,” one of the early classics by the band, and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” wrapped up the main set, before an encore of “You Wreck Me” and “American Girl.”

Now that I’m home and thinking about it I’ve realized how many great songs the band didn’t play: “Breakdown,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “The Waiting,” and a whole lot more. Come back next year, Tom! Play the rest of them and hopefully the lawn chair and blanket people will be moved into their own little corral so the rest of us can better enjoy the show. Or just add them in to your tour-closing show at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 21, just announced on the band’s Twitter while it was playing at Arroyo Seco Weekend on Saturday.

Read more about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers deliver the hits to a packed crowd at Arroyo Seco Weekend This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Tustin Shredding Service near me

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