Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Fonda – 6-9-13 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Fonda – 6-9-13

Pics and Words by Ben Irwin

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Sunday was the penultimate show of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ six-show residency at the Fonda Hollywood. In this type of situation one would expect all the whispers leading up to the show to revolve around which songs Tom would play that none of the other showgoers got to hear. Instead, the buzz was squarely focused on news from the previous night that the Fonda had exceeded floor capacity and was summarily ordered by the Fire Marshal to clear the venue and send everyone home about three quarters of the way through the set (about 45 minutes early).

Unfortunately, I don’t possess the restraint to resist comment on the night in question.


It’s a rarity for legends of Tom Petty’s stature to play small theater shows (the Fonda’s capacity is about 1300 people). Combine that with the fact that Petty is celebrated as one of Hollywood’s native sons (even though was born in Gainesville, FL) and then multiply that intensity by six shows, and only then can you see the true magnitude and grandness that a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers residency really is.

Every single show was sold out within minutes of the ticket release (some months ago). Tom Petty’s team, The Fonda and the promoter GoldenVoice all put in several safeguards to effectively eliminate the scalpers’ market for these tickets, reducing the ticket supply even further. When any show has such an extremely limited supply of tickets and an unlimited amount of demand it almost ensures the crowd will be composed of the stupid lucky and silly rich. That’s who was in the building the night that I attended and, from all indications, the types that were there all week.

So I ask who amongst them is outraged that they only got to see 90 minutes of Tom Petty before they got the boot on Saturday night? Yes, the situation was – undoubtedly – upsetting, but only because it wasn’t the artist’s choice when to end the set. If Tom had come out with a 90 minute set (which is a plenty serviceable amount of time for just about any artist) no one would’ve said anything negative. If, in fact, some rogue members of the venue’s staff are at fault, as is being reported by LA Weekly, then who do you point the finger at? A venue has to bring on additional staff for an event of this magnitude. There’s no reliable way to vet temporary security and sometimes you get scoundrels. The bottom line is when a high profile event like this hits a snag then everyone’s going to get it from the top down. Tom Petty swiftly released a statement (below), and at the Sunday night show promised to make anyone who was in attendance the night prior whole by refunding the entire amount of their ticket.

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Statement From Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Regarding Last Night’s Early Conclusion To The Concert At The Fonda Theatre In Los Angeles

First and foremost, the safety of our fans is our primary concern and the most important consideration.

To those fans who attended last night’s show at the Fonda Theatre, we are as frustrated as you are!

While we are still investigating exactly what happened we do know the following as of right now:

1) The number of tickets sold was NOT above the legal capacity of the building. The venue and Ticketmaster documentation confirms this.

2) The Fire Marshal decided that the number of people on the floor (as opposed to on the upstairs balcony or terrace) was unsafe.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and our representatives rely on the concert promoter and venue representatives to give us an accurate breakdown of the legal capacity for every part of the building and to provide security and other staff to enforce this.

We are still investigating all details of last night’s situation and will keep you informed. 

The shows at the Fonda tonight and Tuesday will go ahead as planned and we are working with the venue, the promoter and the Fire Marshal to ensure that this problem will not repeat itself.

We thank you for your support.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

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I know that the people who were at the Saturday show really don’t want to hear this but those of us who got to go to the Sunday show really got something special from Tom Petty, who was obviously contrite about the prior night’s situations. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers aren’t some washed up yesteryear act doing watery impersonations of their younger selves, while pretending to be relevant in today’s world (we’re looking squarely at you KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Rolling Stones). Tom Petty sounds every part of his vintage goodness…and vintage is in.

This night, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers would triumphantly play an impassioned 2 hour and 20 minute set that spanned the deepest cuts of his entire catalog. Some tracks that rarely get played live like “Honey Bee” and “Wild Flowers” were amazing when brought to life. The unexpected perk was the handful of amazing covers that Petty did; “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Dylan)”, “13 Days (J.J. Cale)”, and “I Just Want to Make Love to You (Muddy Waters)” were true highlights.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ended the night with four songs that everybody in the entire audience knew by heart: “Refugee”, “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “American Girl”. By the end of the night any awkward vibes that existed due to the prior night circumstances were completely out of the crowd’s collective mind. What was left was the pleasure of watching a hero who can still bring nonstop magic to songs he’s been performing for over 30 years.

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Pictures from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Fonda – 6-9-13

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