So HEART came to the Valley Forge Convention Center over the weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since it was first announced for a couple of reasons: One, I love me some HEART, and Ann Wilson’s voice is STILL jaw-droppingly outstanding. And two, the place is right in my backyard…winning! When I arrived there was a miscommunication regarding tickets but I have to say that Eliza the venue’s Entertainment Coordinator and Stephanie who was running things at the door were beyond helpful and accommodating and in no time flat I was inside and ready to rock with HEART!
Hitting the stage around 8:30 the Wilson Sisters and Co. immediately hit us with a double shot of oldies but goodies in “Magic Man” and “Heartless”, two songs that showcase just how spectacular the harmonies are in this group.
This led us into 80’s mega-hit “What About Love” before another triple-dose of the older stuff knocked us on our asses: “Kick It Out”, “Straight On”, and “Bebe Le Strange” are songs that are absolute classics and the faithful in attendance roared their appreciation after each one.
Guitarist/vocalist Nancy Wilson took a turn at the mic for “There’s the Girl” from 1987’s Bad Animals album, one of my favorites from that era and followed that up with lead vocals on another monster hit in “These Dreams”. She took the time to have some fun with it by saying, “You’ve probably heard this in an elevator, the supermarket, or even 7-11. I always said I’d know I made it when I heard my songs in a supermarket.” Even though we all laughed, there’s no denying the timelessness of this tune, and just like last year in Dallas it was a definite highlight for me.
But one of the biggest moments came when the band started “Alone”. What’s great about the way they do it now is that they’ve removed much of the big-production bombast of the original and they keep it fairly stripped-down. Bassist Dan Rothchild, drummer Ben Smith, guitarist Craig Bartock and piano player Chris Joyner (who by the way has a new solo record out called Domino!) all work together in such a way so as to complement rather than play over Ann as she sings. And when she hit those final bigger than life “Alone” notes the room went into a standing fucking ovation. All young singers need to study her. Everything from her breathing to whatever her pre-show rituals are. Because now, four decades into the band’s career she is undeniably one of the best vocalists I have EVER heard live. It’s days later and I can still relive that moment over and over and over.
One of the cool things about this particular show was the inclusion of “Day of the Eagle” and “Looks Could Kill”. I’m not sure if these have been live staples on recent tours or not but for me it was great to hear some of the more off the beaten path numbers (yeah, yeah I know “Looks” charted back in the day) like these. Obviously everyone else agreed because no one stopped moving for a second. Nancy then came out and played around a bit on her guitar before starting that iconic intro to “Crazy On You” and the room erupted. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough they decided to bash us over the head with “Barracuda” to close out the regular set!
Now, the show could have ended right after those thirteen classics and I would have been fine with that. Not so fast, though. For the encore it was HEART doing LED ZEPPELIN. If I hadn’t seen it before and known to expect it my heart might have exploded right then and there. “Immigrant Song”, “No Quarter”, and then “Misty Mountain Hop”?? Please and thank you!! No one, and I do mean NO ONE should ever be allowed to play these majestic songs other than HEART.
Overall it was a terrific show, and it was great to see a veteran band show everyone how it’s done. If for some reason you’ve never seen HEART live I suggest you rectify that with a quickness.
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY