Heart – The Beat Goes On

heart-2013-tourHeart made a stop at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA to rock a warm, humid night last Friday.  Fresh off their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last spring, Ann and Nancy Wilson brought the latest incarnation of the band out for an audio and visual feast that more than fully satisfied the musical belly of the nearly sold-out venue.

With food like this I could gorge day after day.

Heart could have played for three days and still have had plenty left in their tank.  They came onstage and unleashed a set that was almost in a perfect chronological order of hit after hit covering their successes from the seventies, eighties, and nineties.  The band was tight, the sound was extremely well-crafted, and I learned first-hand that Ann Wilson can still belt out vocals that simply put her on a different plane than most female singers.

It was evident the sisters had fun onstage especially when the backlighting dimmed, the spotlight focussed on center stage, and the two of them performed an immaculate version of Led Zeppelin‘s Battle of Evermore with Ann playing acoustic guitar and Nancy strumming it out on a mandolin.  Ann and Nancy’s vocals purely personified the original meaning of the song – the everlasting battle between night and day, or good an evil.  The back and forth was perfection, the production electrifying the crowd even though it was all acoustic.

Another visit to center stage saw the sisters acknowledge a fan request with a wonderfully emotional yet powerful rendition of Dog & Butterfly, beginning with a beautiful subtlety and continuing into a full-blown melodic journey for the senses, leaving many in the crowd in a pure state of awe.

And of course, they rocked it with hit after hit that kept pounding at you with full thrust, bringing back the straight-ahead power that helped Heart define the 70’s rock scene.  A big shout to Craig Bartock on lead guitar who surprisingly had us all forgetting the name of co-founding band member Roger Fisher.  Every chord and each note of his solos were perfect.

And with each song performed, more collective wows from the audience over Ann Wilson’s vocal perfection.  Yes, she can still hit her high notes, her low notes, and everything in between with precision and clarity.  She didn’t shy away from the vocal challenges – she attacked them each time with confidence and nailed every note on the upper end.  She’s still got it, folks.  Go ahead and bet your farm on it.

This night wasn’t all about Heart, though.  Over the years, Heart’s appreciation of Led Zeppelin has been obvious.  Tonight was a treat for both Heart and Led Zeppelin’s faithful followers.  Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience was the opening act.  They laid down powerful Zep tracks that, if you closed your eyes, allowed you to see the original band onstage, backed by the thunderous drumming of John Bonham himself.  The real beauty was when they joined Heart onstage for the finale, playing several Zeppelin tunes and featuring a version of Kashmir that was beyond this world.  The show closed with the ultimate tribute to the band, a spot-on version of Stairway to Heaven with a backup choir popping out of the stage’s darkened corner, adding another layer of wow-factor.  The song ended, and nearly nineteen thousand exhausted, dedicated fans poured out into the night in disbelief over what they just experienced.

Just like the old days.

Not only did we hear a great performance, we also saw a show that used a very sophisticated approach to lighting and presentation.  It wasn’t over-the-top, but rather a tasteful and effective coordination of lighting and video production, one worthy of a band of seasoned veterans.  Tastefully done and a real pleasure on the eye.

I’ve mentioned before about these bands who had the bulk of their success decades ago, and about how they have found the fun in performing again.  It’s almost like a lot of these bands had to go into hiatus for some time to re-find the spark they had long ago.  I’ve mentioned how you can see a different look on their faces now when the crowd erupts and shows their approval.  For these bands, it’s no longer about playing “the game” or being the top grossing tour this year.  For bands like Heart and so many others, it’s a reconnection to their grass roots, to the fire that made them form a band in the first place, and it’s about passion.  Not to become rich and famous, but to perform their art with the true joy and artistic feeling through their expression.

Heart is one of these bands, and it (and they) a joy to see.  If you can see them this summer, you should do so (see their 2013 tour schedule below).  It’s not only your entertainment dollar well spent, it’s the chance to see these icons perform at their top-level and love every minute while doing it.

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  1. minkmush

     /  June 30, 2013

    That was definitely a show to remember! Ann’s voice just blew my mind. Everyone was rockin’ on stage and having such a great time it was infectious. Loved every minute of it.

    • You probably dug it even more because you were sitting (standing) next to me the whole time, right?


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