This post has been updated. See below for details.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' concert Saturday night at the Fonda was cut short when fire marshals declared the venue overcrowded and shut it down. The concert was the fourth of six Petty gigs at the theater, which has a capacity of 1,300, and the move infuriated fans, who refused to leave amid howls and boos.
The concern became apparent when a little after 10:30 p.m., the singer informed the crowd of a problem: City officials had told management that "about 100" people either had to move to the balcony or leave the concert, or the gig might be cut short.
Needless to say, no one volunteered to do either. After an extended version of the band's "Melinda" in which Petty spent an instrumental break getting information from the side of the stage, the singer abruptly stepped to the microphone and informed his flock that show was over and left the stage. Confused, the crowd keep applauding and hoping for a return, but within moments the house lights came up and an announcer said the gig was over.
I was at the show and the venue was indeed crowded — but then, the gig had been sold out for months. Having been at the first one on Monday, though, the Fonda was noticeably more crammed. In fact, even before Petty's announcement, fire officials had started preventing those already inside the building from entering the theater itself — even though some had been in moments before and were just grabbing a drink or hitting the bathroom.
One angry attendee noted in an email that outside the Fonda before Saturday's show, he observed a "standby" line "about 20-people deep" for fans without passes, and that they were eventually allowed to buy tickets — this despite the show being sold out well in advance.
Thus far neither Tom Petty's camp nor Goldenvoice, which owns and operates the Fonda, have released a statement, although both indicated that one would be forthcoming. Petty's official Twitter feed did, however, post an image of his Saturday set list. The piece of paper, shown above, is torn and burned.
Keyboardist Benmont Tench tweeted this: "So sorry y'all we were as surprised & bummed as you were."
Petty returns to the Fonda on Sunday night for gig No. 5. Hopefully.
Pop & Hiss will update this post as information becomes available.
Updated 3:24 p.m.: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers have issued a statement regarding Saturday's concert. Read it in its entirety.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit