Tuesday 3 October 2017

Vale Tom Petty - Memories of a night at the Sydney Entertainment Centre

When Bob Dylan came to Australia for the second time he was at the peak of his singing power. The arrangements were new and the general sentiment was that you couldn't wait for a live LP. It came out a while later as Dylan Live at Budokan. In Sydney he went on at the Randwick Racecourse. Unfortunately it had rained all day and the grassed arena in front of the stage turned into a sea of mud and to get to your seat in the expensive parts in front of the stage you had to walk through calf deep mud. It was all a bit embarrassing for the State Government. The Premier Neville Wran vowed that in future such performers would go on at a purpose built indoor arena.

Bob Dylan, Tom Petty
That venue was delivered some years later and Dylan came back to go on there with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1986. It was called the True Confessions Tour. The concert was quite something even viewed from the very back row of the Sydney Entertainment Centre. It was bemusing to sit way up there and watch people find their seats and mutter about how you book a minute after bookings open and still get the back row. 

Gillian Armstrong made a film of the evening which was released on video as Hard to Handle. The Sydney Entertainment Centre has since, already, been pulled down.

Petty and Dylan shared ta brilliant evening. They were even joined for a number late in proceedings by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, introduced by Dylan as the greatest guitar player in the world. The composer of Sultans of Swing should have been miffed at such a casual under-valuing of his talent.

I think that was also the night when a strange woman suddenly appeared in front of the stage and danced along. The woman has since published her version of events after the dear old Melbourne Truth defamed her.

At the end of the tour, which went around the world,  Petty and Dylan went their own way until they got together again as parts of The Travelling Wilburys, the greatest supergroup of all time.

Vale Tom Petty. You were quite some muso and your  self-effacing support  of the Great Man was most admirable. It made for a superb night of music on the one time I ever saw you perform.

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