Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heart Serves Up Some Classic Rock With an Extra Live Kick

True to the words of one Huey Lewis, the heart of the rock 'n' roll is still beating. But what about the Heart of rock 'n' roll?

That was the question tonight when the band, which had its first hit 34 years ago and has been off and on the last 15 years, made a long-awaited Pittsburgh appearance at the packed Trib Amphitheatre, led, of course, by the Wilson sisters Ann and Nancy.

Not to take anything away from the super cool Nancy, but the key to Heart's success is Ann's ability to wail, as so many of the songs were designed for her siren voice. It passed its first test on the opening "Cook With Fire," with the 60-year-old Ann, elegant in a lacy black dress, revealing the power and then the range, on the soaring chorus.

At her side was the strawberry-haired Nancy grinding on guitar and sometimes sharing the lead vocal, like on "Straight On," which included a playful nod to "Take Me to the River." Likewise, "Even It Up" started like it was "Gimme Shelter" and then delivered on that tease with Ann mixing in one chorus of the Stones' rocker.

Of course there was no getting around the '80s, represented by the slower songs like the swelling ballad "Alone," "These Dreams" and "Never," spiked by Nancy's harmonica solo.

Heart, yet another band touring prior to the release of an album no one's heard, offered a few songs from "Red Velvet Car," including the title track (a symphonic ballad), the metallic "WTF" and Nancy's jangly folk-rock song ''Hey You," with a "nah-nah-nah" chorus.

That left the big three and, seriously, how many bands have a trio of Guitar Hero hits to close with as killer as "Magic Man," "Crazy on You" and "Barracuda"? Believe it or not, they rocked just like we remembered them, with the extra live kick.

The icing on Heart's classic rock cake was more heavy riffage by way of Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be" and The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me".