The last time I saw and met Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart was back in the 1980s for their BRIGADE Tour. It was unquestionably one of the best rock music nights I’ve ever experienced. Not only did the ladies pull out all the stops with their classic hits but they sang and played the new tunes from the album with a vengeance unlike any other I have ever seen. Proof positive once again; Girls can definitely ROCK!
Ann Wilson’s voice is one of the most distinctive in music, past and present. After over 40 years in the industry Heart still remains a huge live draw. This year the ladies and the band they formed and fronted from the very beginning were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. It is an honor that was a long time coming and way over due. This is a special evening for me. It is my chance to return with the queens of rock to one of my favorite places; their rich and vast catalog of classic songs played live by the women who crossed the lines of gender rock and made it what its always should have been, just rock’n’roll.
Always the consummate performers the ladies looked damn good as they took the stage kicking off the first night of their HEARTBREAKER tour here in West Palm Beach to a very appreciative audience. They opened the show in grand style with a roaring version of Barracuda that seemed to send shock waves through the crowd. They sounded phenomenal as the ladies effortless ran through their set list. I wouldn’t say the show was a night of nostalgia but they did pull out some heavy hitters from their earlier releases. Mistral Wind and Dreamboat Annie (complete with Ann playing flute) drew heavy applause and standing ovations. Heart certainly hasn’t lost their edge as they’ve gotten older. Ann Wilson’s vocals are still as clear and strong as they’ve ever been. For my money she still has the best pipes in the business. Nancy’s guitar playing remains raw and filled with emotion. Her famous high kicks and rousing vocals are still a wonder to experience and adds that something special to her sister’s singing prowess, which is obviously a gift from above. Celebrating their 14th studio release FANATIC Ann and Nancy obviously had to kick some new songs into this evening’s repertoire. Heartless and Dear Old America were among the new material and fit nicely into the set.
It was the more familiar and fan favorite tunes that really got the crowd on their feet. Magic Man, Crazy on You, What About Love and a gorgeous acoustic rendition of my personal favorite Alone raised the audience’s decibel level to 11. Ann’s vocal never waivered and the infamous note she hits midway was a moment everyone in the audience was waiting for. When it came arms were raised in the air solidifying her incredible power and control of universal communication. It was a stunning performance.
Other highlights that we reveled in consisted of These Dreams, Even It Up and a surprise solo by Nancy, Elton John’s I Need You To Turn To. For their encore Jason Bonham returned to his drum kit for an incredible and unforgettable super set of Led Zeppelin songs. When I tell you that this was a rock fans dream I’m not kidding. The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Black Dog, and Kashmir had the entire arena on its feet. The quintessential cherry on the cake was the very last song of the night: Heart with Jason Bonham and a ten piece gospel choir singing Stairway To Heaven. To say this brought the crowd to a climax would be an understatement. I could barely hear Ann’s vocals over the audience singing along. It was breathtaking and something I won’t soon forget. Ann and Nancy Wilson still definitely have it, in fact, they never lost it. This was one hell of a rock show and goes down in my record book as one of the best shows in recent years.
The added bonus to the evening was Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience opening the show. Jason has brought the best of best back to the forefront in an amazing set performed with him on drums and a four piece band. What Bonham has created is a spectacular event and tribute to his father and Zeppelin’s legacy. It really was like hearing Zeppelin live. Jason’s band was dead on and James Dylan’s vocals were uncanny. If there was ever a Robert Plant sound-alike clone, this guy is it. Their last song of the set was a high spirited, rip roaring rendition of Whole Lotta Love.
I can’t think of a better bill out on the road today. Heart’s love and respect of Zeppelin and Jason’s amazing music performance made this night a grand tribute to the music we all know and love. If the HEARTBREAKER TOUR is coming your way make sure you run out and buy a ticket. This is one show you’re not going to want to miss. Long live rock’n’roll.