Tom Petty flourishes in the face of adversity.
On his new album, "Hypnotic Eye," and the corresponding tour with The Heartbreakers, which stopped at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer finds inspiration in explaining life in America's current economic doldrums and how we can escape them.
He feels believable because of his decades of detail-oriented songs, combined with his bond with the audience.
"We're planning on the full-length industrial rock and roll set tonight," he warned, jokingly. "Better call the baby-sitter."
Because he knows his audience so well, Petty knew to stick mostly with the up-tempo tracks from "Hypnotic Eye" and pair them with similarly themed songs from his back catalog to make his point.
The new "American Dream Plan B," with its emphasis on happiness rather than material goods, worked well with "Into the Great Wide Open." The cutting new "Forgotten Man" worked well with the feisty classic "I Won't Back Down," while the current single "U Get Me High" fit perfectly after "A Woman in Love."
He ended his main set with classics that show how well his "Hypnotic Eye" songs fit in his catalog, with searing versions of "Refugee," led by Mike Campbell's impressive guitar work and Benmont Tench's howling organ, and "Runnin' Down a Dream," made even more epic thanks to Campbell's wild solo.
The latest songs create a new context for the band's classic work, building a must-see tour while Petty and Campbell celebrate 44 years of playing together.