Good artists borrow and great artists steal, but only a legend can get away with inviting the thieves who ripped him off to open a tour. Much as the Velvet Underground and Television references got tossed around early on, it was TOM PETTY who was responsible for many of the Strokes’ better ideas–check out his killer late-70s performance of “American Girl” on The Old Grey Whistle Test for definitive proof. And if you’re looking for a nice pocket to pick, by the way, Petty’s a great target. His jangly, unpretentious pop style has never been the coolest thing going, but there’s never been a time when listening to it was a bad idea. His newest record sans the Heartbreakers, Highway Companion (American), produced by fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne, is a middle-aged superstar’s meditation on road trips, and about as exciting as that sounds. No one’s gonna confuse it with Full Moon Fever, but when you’ve written as many anthems as Petty, you’re allowed to just chill out every now and again.
The STROKES now have their own legion of imitators, but they still need to make another record or two as good as Is This It before they even begin to deserve all the adoration. Julian Casablancas recaptures his bored-rich-kid glory in a few spots on their latest, First Impressions of Earth (RCA), but most of the time he sounds like he’s working his ass off to satisfy a crowd–and working’s not a rich kid’s strong suit. Thu 9/14, 7:30 PM, Charter One Pavilion, Northerly Island at Burnham Harbor, 1300 S. Linn White Dr., 312-540-2000 or 312-559-1212, $65.50-$85.50. All ages.