Back in 2003, I went to my first and only Tom Petty concert. It was 14 years ago, at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids. It was along time ago, but it's a night I'll always remember.

I got a call the day of the show from my good friend Tim Green. Tim ran the Outback Steakhouse in Cedar Rapids. We had become close friends after working on a television project together. He told me he had an extra ticket to the show and invited me to come along. Even though I was more of a 'heavy metal' kind of guy, I took him up on his offer.

I grew up watching Tom Petty videos on MTV. I wasn't a huge Petty fan, but I was pretty excited for the show. It was a Monday night, I had a free ticket, and my buddy bought the first round of beers. Things were off to a great start!

The house lights went down and the band started to play. They opened the show with a huge hit, "American Girl." The place went absolutely crazy. If had to guess, there were about 4,500 people in attendance that night. It was a very intimate, cool setting to see a show with an icon like Tom Petty.

What I remember the most about that night was the song selections. It seemed like everything they played was a hit. I was a guy who had never purchased a Petty album, but I was able to sing along to 90 percent of the songs he played.....It was pretty cool.

I went to to look up the show. Check out the first 5 songs:

  1. "American Girl"
  2. "You Don't Know How It Feels"
  3. "Love is a Long Road"
  4. "Free Fallin'"
  5. "You Got Lucky"

Talk about a great start! Petty sounded great that night. But more then anything, he looked cool, like a real rock star. I was in the third row and I realized real quickly, this will be a show I will never forget.

The rest of the night was filled with all of the Petty hits. "Refugee," "Learning to Fly," "The Last DJ," Runnin' Down a Dream," "Mary Jane's Last Dance," "I Won't back Down," and the final song, "You Wreck Me."

There were a few deep cuts mixed into the show but nobody seemed to care. It was a great concert and I'm glad I was there. I became a pretty big fan of Tom Petty after that concert in Cedar Rapids...... I just wish I could have seen him one more time before his death.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Petty.


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