Reporter's Notebook: Tom Petty & Heartbreakers perform for a still healing UK

We could say that American rock-and-roll icon Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers rode into the UK on a mission this weekend: To pick up the spirits of a ‎people hit hard by terror attacks, a nasty election and a terrible fire.  

And, in fact, the concert might have. I was standing next to someone from Manchester (scene of one of the attacks) who certainly was enjoying himself immensely. 

Except it was planned well in advance of those horrible events. And Petty kept his on-stage patter warm but strictly apolitical. 

What the show really was about was the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers being together. ‎ The "British Summer Time" concert was held was a glorious night in Hyde Park (no rain). It was the band’s only European gig of the tour.    

And for good reason. Back in 1976, when Petty and company were trying to gain traction with their first album, it was the Brits who liked them first, putting them on "The telly" and charting one of their hits (played as the lead-off song of the concert). Then the U.S. "caught up" with the Old World – big time. 

There were a few other English connections with the group. The longtime drummer hails from Brighton, England. And the backup singers are from Kent, England.   

But it was mostly a good old-fashioned end of Fourth of July holiday "week" American rock blast. Including favorites like "Refugee" and "I Won't Back Down‎" and sing-along tunes like "Don't Come Around Here No More" that showed the Brits have a handle on Gator Rock English 

While expected, as she had just finished a prior set, it was still a treat to have another American, Stevie Nicks (of Fleetwood Mac fame) come out and do a great duet to the Petty-penned "Don't Go Draggin' My Heart Around."

Again though, just straight-ahead, rock and roll was the theme of the two-hour songfest and the crowd of 65,000 not far from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace loved it.   

Another artist might have made a reference to another high-level American's visit to a Europe this weekend in the intro to "It's Good to be King." Instead Petty used the tune as a platform for some blistering solos.     

He did make a laughing reference to watching the time as a 10:30 Hyde Park curfew closed in. An obvious reference to fellow American Bruce Springsteen's "spot of bother" a few years back when he went overtime with Paul McCartney and they had the plug pulled. 

No matter, that quick-paced tune made for stateside Top 40 Radio and for bringing a crowd to its feet: “American Girl” made for a fitting finale. Along with some red, white and blue decorations. 

There have been some hints this might be 66-year-old Petty's last major tour. Thankfully, for grateful British fans, he said say he’d try to return.

Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.