Tom Petty was on my list of musicians that I wanted to see live but never have. So when a friend asked me if I wanted to see Petty's new old band Mudcrutch perform, I reluctantly said yes. Mudcrutch was Petty's original band formed in 1970. The group released one song in 1975, but it never charted, and the band broke up soon after. Several years ago, Mudcrutch reunited and recorded an album. Now they were going on tour to support their second album.
When I reluctantly said yes, I figured that Mudcrutch was Petty wanting to get together with old friends, reminisce about their younger days, and have some fun. I truly thought that the concert would be Petty and his JV team. A few weeks ago, I received the Mudcrutch 2 CD in the mail, a "gift" with the purchase of the concert ticket. I listened to it multiple times over the past week and found it very good. Petty wasn't the lead singer on all of the tracks, but again, I thought he was just being nice and letting his friends have a chance at the spotlight.
Then, Monday night at DC's 9:30 Club arrived. Seeing Petty come out on stage in a 1,300 capacity venue was surreal. Even Petty admitted that he wasn't used to played small venues. He said, "We used to play places this size. They weren't quite as nice as this, but they had topless dancers." I only knew the songs from the second CD and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door," but I quickly stopped thinking of Mudcrutch as Tom Petty and his side gig. I was blown away by Benmont Tench on the keyboards and learned that both he and guitarist Mike Campbell are also members of The Heartbreakers. The entire band was comprised of professional musicians that have honed their craft over decades. They clearly were not guys who picked up their instruments for the first time since their 20s. Naturally, I focused on Petty as he was the lead singer of most songs, but this was clearly a band that sounded like they played together forever. Even after the concert, the songs that stayed in my head were those where Petty wasn't the lead singer. Sure, I would have loved to have heard Mudcrutch perform some of Petty's biggest hits, but it turned out to be okay that they didn't.
A few other notes from the concert:
- The Denver Broncos visited the White House on Monday. My guess is that current Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Rob Ryan tried to sneak in and was denied entry. He then must have come to the 9:30 Club to see Mudcrutch. (Or it was just some other guy that looked like Rob Ryan.)
- As we left the venue, we were stopped as the Mudcrutch tour buses exited. They weren't messing around. There were no meet and greets or talking with the 9:30 Club staff. They left the stage and immediately went on the tour buses to go to their next destination (probably a hotel).
- The opening act was a band called The Shelters who are releasing their debut album on Friday. I had no expectation for them, but they were also very good. They don't have many more Twitter followers than me, so I recommend that you support them.
- Free parking is always a plus for any concert or any venture into DC.
You can read more professional reviews of the concert from USA Today (with set list), The Washington Post, and Writers on the Storm.
Mudcrutch photo by Mike Snider/USA Today. Rob Ryan photo by Mike Rodak/ESPN.