In all the eulogizing and nostalgia-tripping over his timeless body of work, his stature as one of the early MTV video greats, etc, etc, I noticed that no one was bringing up Petty's 2008 Super Bowl halftime performance. So I went back and watched it, and I'm warning you now, you'll end up spending at least an hour of your life going down the rabbit hole on these performances. Get the popcorn.
When you think of a Super Bowl halftime show, you think about how the best ones always involve memorable pyrotechnics, both literal and performative: Bruce Springsteen's revival-tent bombast, Lady Gaga's bold leap, Prince going crazy in the (actual) purple rain, Beyoncé's double-shot of her own flawless 2013 performance and her scene-stealing 2016 Formation field march(that smile at the 1:55 mark when she's like "yeah, I just made you forget all about everyone else, huh?"), Left Shark… well, we'll always have Left Shark.
And then there's Tom Petty. For 12 minutes, he and the Heartbreakers happily and shaggily play what feels like part of one of their regular tour sets. I mean, Tom's obviously pumped to be there, but he just stands at his mic, smiling, singing, playing, wearing his loose polka dot tie ascot thing (what IS that?), strolling around the stage, and generally doing his thing. At one point between songs, he actually stops, shouts "thank you!" and does a guitar switch-out with one of his techs as if it were just another show on the road.
There are no surprise guests, no mash-ups or medleys, just a run-through of some of the biggest and best songs of his career. It's kind of perfect in its own way, and a wonderful moment to re-watch and remember.