How can it have been 38 years since Heart’s “Magic Man” became an FM radio staple?
Saturday night at Pier Six Pavilion, before a near-sold-out house, the Wilson sisters — lead singer Ann with guitarist Nancy — and their band’s latest incarnation played a tight, straight-ahead 90-minute set short on spontaneity and surprises, but plenty long on the propulsive rock 'n' roll that earned Heart a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their fans clearly loved it, and for good reason: this was classic rock with an oomph, a well-oiled hit machine that shows little sign of wearing down anytime soon.
The evening kicked off with a relentless three-song blast of “Barracuda,” "Heartless” and “What About Love?” — three songs that perfectly capture Heart’s appeal. All are proudly anthemic (is there a more high-energy proclamation of female empowerment against the odds than “Barracuda?”), steadfastly defiant (the Wilson sisters are clearly not to be trifled with) and poundingly melodic.
The concert was off to a high-octane start, and Heart rarely let its foot off the pedal. That wasn’t always a good thing; some of the band’s best songs have been their softer stuff, but save for “Dreamboat Annie” and Nancy taking the lead on “These Dreams,” such songs were in short supply.
A little bone for the long-time faithful, like the haunting “Mistral Wind” (from “Dog & Butterfly”) or even “Little Queen” (that one was really missed), would have made the evening even more special.
Still, let’s not quibble. Ann's voice is still a rock 'n' roll powerhouse; hearing her wail through “Crazy on You” will always be a rush. While she doesn’t seem to go for the high notes anymore (kicking her voice into the higher register for “Kick It Out” was always what made that song so thrilling), her gusto is proudly undiminished. Her powerful take on the band’s cover of Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” brought the crowd to its feet.
And Nancy remains a singular presence on guitar – driving and sensuous. Seeing her attack an acoustic guitar for the intro to “Crazy on You” should be a part of any rock-concert highlight reel.
By the time the band returned for the encore tribute to Led Zeppelin (enthusiastic covers of “Immigrant Song,” “What Is and What Should Never Be” and extreme-crowd-pleaser “Misty Mountain Hop”), it was clear the Wilson sisters had given the crowd exactly what it wanted: three decades’ worth of hits, served with energy, sass and plenty of (you knew this was coming, right?) Heart.
What About Love
Even It Up
Kick It Out
Let Me Roll It (Paul McCartney and Wings cover)
Dear Old America
Crazy On You
Led Zeppelin tribute (Immigrant Song, What Is and What Should Never Be, Misty Mountain Hop)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun