Early in 1997, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers set up shop at the Fillmore in San Francisco, playing 20 consecutive concerts during a residency that amounted to their only live shows of the year. Being anchored in one spot paradoxically gave them the freedom to move, to not constrain themselves to their standard repertoire. Over the course of 20 nights, the Heartbreakers excavated treasures from deep within their vast catalog, set time aside to have their heroes join them in a jam session, and hauled out covers of their favorite oldies. The 2022 set Live at the Fillmore, 1997 collects four CDs' worth (or six LPs) of highlights, all taken from the final six shows at the Fillmore, which were the only concerts that were professionally recorded. Producer Ryan Ulyate and Heartbreaker Benmont Tench shaped those shows into a box set that contains the arc of a massive concert, one that feels more like a sweaty bar than a packed arena. A lot of that is due to how Live at the Fillmore, 1997 presents the Heartbreakers as the world's greatest jukebox, playing any hit or obscurity on demand. Over half of the set is dedicated to covers, some of which are performed by the originators themselves: John Lee Hooker and Roger McGuinn each sit in with the Heartbreakers for multiple songs. What impresses is both the band's range -- Booker T & the M.G.'s groover "Hip Hugger" sits alongside the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil," while the band takes an instrumental stab at the James Bond theme "Goldfinger" and offers a simmering reading of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" elsewhere -- and how loose the group sounds. They're so relaxed, Petty winds up confusing Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and its sequel "Bye Bye Johnny," and the mistake seems invigorating: the group is here to have a good time and mistakes come with the territory. Although it's a bit light on the hits -- many are here, often in slightly different arrangements, such as the acoustic renditions of "Even the Losers" and "American Girl" -- it could be argued that Live at the Fillmore, 1997 is the definitive live portrait of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: not only do they sound mighty, this freewheeling eclecticism rooted in 1960s rock and pop is the best showcase of the band's aesthetic.

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