Dylan and Petty leave Wellington blowin' in the wind - 150 years of News

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty trade riffs at Athletic Park, Wellington, February 5, 1986.

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty trade riffs at Athletic Park, Wellington, February 5, 1986.

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty's clamorous practice session before their 1986 show at Athletic Park almost cost the pair the gig.

It was Dylan, Petty and his Heartbreakers first time playing together and the under-rehearsed musicians drew the ire of residents after a "long and loud" warm-up two nights before the February 5 show.

Promoters were threatened with cancellation by Wellington City Council, The Evening Post reported.

But the show went ahead in what Post reviewer Anne Hogan said – despite a drug overdose and a handful of arrests – was one of the most "relaxed, casual shows the park has seen...like a couple of friends having a jam".

The only sharp words in Hogan's breezy review were reserved for Dylan's fading features and dirty demeanour.

"He is hitting 45 now and it's starting to show. And it seems sad that he appears so paranoid, miserable and incapable of a smile."

Rolling Stone critic Anthony DeCurtis, who covered the Australasian tour for the magazine, was not quite as impressed by the music, nor the 20,000 fans.

"The two-and-a-half-hour set didn't catch fire [for the crowd] until Petty lit the blaze three-quarters of the way through with an extended version of "Refugee."

It seems the real show happened at the after party.

"After the show, Dylan and the gang repaired to the Park Royal Hotel, where, shortly after midnight, Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench commandeered the piano at the hotel bar for an impromptu songfest that featured Dylan, Petty, Stevie Nicks (who was backstage at the show) and backup singer Debra Byrd," DeCurtis wrote. 

The Dominion Post - 150 Years of News is available via dompost.co.nz or 0800 50 50 90. Priced at $34.95 + $3 postage and handling or $29.95 + $3 p&h for subscribers.

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