Sept. 26, 2014
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa
There’s Plant and Page, Tyler and Perry–and then there’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, creators of the Seattle-based rock band, Heart.
On Thursday night, Heart entertained fans with a 17-song set at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. As they took the stage, Nancy played those initial notorious riffs of “Barracuda,” and the audience roared. As always, Ann’s vocals were in stellar shape, just as they were when the sisters released their first album, Dreamboat Annie, in 1976.
The show was a beautiful mix of songs that were comforting (like “Heaven”) and songs that rocked (like “Magic Man” and “Kick It Out”).
Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” was sung by Nancy, as was their 1986 Number 1 chart-topping hit, “These Dreams.”
Ann then introduced my veteran ears to a song called “Heaven.” “Let’s take you from the material world to another realm,” she said. “It’s a song we never recorded for an album, because we thought it better to just play it in the air.” The song included Nancy using a violin bow on her acoustic guitar while Ann played the Autoharp. It was a gorgeous, ethereal song that poured spirit into the air–something only the Wilson sisters could achieve.
Within their immense catalog, “Alone” is a song that I never cared for. However, in concert and in this decade, it’s completely stripped down from its ’80s sound and becomes a haunting, acoustic powerhouse that made the short, baby hairs on the back of my head stand up. Totally unexpected, and well worth the drive North.
“Mashallah,” another new song to my ears, was introduced by Ann. “The thing about love,” she said, “is that it’s hard to catch and master and maintain, but it’s the best thing we got, and it’s worth going after.” I expected a light, flowing track, but we got a hard rock edgy song that filled my soul. I loved it.
The crowd was no doubt excited throughout Heart’s set, but when their three-song Led Zeppelin encore started, the crowd was ecstatic. Ann, who has been called the female Robert Plant, holds her place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with poise as she brought us “to the land of ice and snow.” Her vocals were like shards of ice breaking through the intense wall of music provided by the band on “Immigrant Song.”
From what I know, the Wilson sisters end every concert with a handful of Led Zeppelin songs. But what rattles my head is the fact that Ann can do this, and continues to do this. Her voice was stunning in 1976, and it just keeps getting better with age.
Heart’s U.S. tour concludes in December, and in January 2015, they head to New Zealand. For more tour dates, visit https://www.heart-music.com/tourdates.html
Set list: Barracuda | Heartless | What About Love | Magic Man | Dreamboat Annie | Even It Up | Kick It Out | Straight On | Let Me Roll It | Heaven | These Dreams | Alone | Mashallah | Crazy On You
Encore: Immigrant Song | Rain Song | Misty Mountain Hop