Holy City Heartbreakers
On Friday evening, at the largely empty Windjammer, Sadler Vaden channeled Tom Petty and Jason Fox, Jack Burg, Josh Kaler, Jon Hager, and Joel Hamilton took the role as the vintage Heartbreakers. And the few dozen who made the trip out to IOP to see the Holy City Heartbreakers were treated to a spot-on, hard-rocking benefit.
Starting it off with “I Need to Know,” Vaden not only sounded like him but looked like the young Petty of the late ’70s, nailing every vocal quirk and guitar lick. After a particularly appropriate rendition of “Don’t Do Me Like That” aimed at the thieves, special guest Ryan Bonner came on to croon the classic “Listen to Her Heart.”
While virtually all of Petty’s hits were played in the course of the two sets and three encores, the lesser known songs stood out for their power and feeling. On “Rebels,” Vaden brought the romanticism of the Civil War back to life in the fantastic Southern anthem from the ’80s. On the offbeat “Honeybee” from 1995’s Wildflowers, the band kicked up it a notch and Vaden killed the boss guitar riff. Even without Stevie Nicks, the band provided great harmonies on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” “Don’t Come Around Here No More” was a great end to the first set.
Local songstress Lindsay Holler started off the second set with a beautiful cover of the piano-heavy “You Don’t Know How it Feels,” and the band wasted no time, settling into a run of huge hits: “The Waiting,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “You Got Lucky,” and “I Won’t Back Down,” which had the audience throwing their arms in the air and grabbing new friends for impromptu dancing.
After “Wildflowers” and a slowed-down sing-a-long of “Breakdown,” Bonner reappeared for “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” closing the second set on a high note. The underappreciated “You Wreck Me” started off the first encore, followed by a curveball, the Them rock classic “Gloria.”
“Refugee” and “Running Down a Dream” were rocked to the fullest extent, and then the one all the couples were waiting for, “Free Fallin’,” gave everyone the chance for a nice slow dance.
As the famous opening lick of “American Girl” hit the crowd, the place erupted, because of how much they loved that song and because it meant the music still wasn’t over. Vaden played a to-the-note solo, and much like the Heartbreakers in their prime, the band was a machine. This modest crew would certainly call it heresy, but they could go up against the real Heartbreakers any day.