Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PopCultureGuy: Raleigh Review 8/14/2010

Heart performed live at the downtown Raleigh Amphitheater last night to a raucous crowd that had the pleasure of hearing classic Heart hits, a few new songs and two outstanding cover tunes. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have fronted Heart for almost 35 years, but have maintained youthful appearances, along with voices that have aged very well and they still retain the ability to rock as hard as any band I have ever seen live.

The concert featured Heart classics, such as "Magic Man", "Alone", "These Dreams", "Crazy On You", "Barracuda" and "What About Love." Ann's vocals on "Crazy On You" and "Alone" were especially impressive and I loved that Nancy performed the instrumental "Silver Wheels" prior to the opening of "Crazy On You." From a musical perspective, "Barracuda" and "Magic Man" sounded almost exactly the same as the original album versions, only much louder, which is a good thing.

Lesser know, but equally good songs, such as the seldom heard "Heartless" were a highlight of the show. In addition, I thought the band was going to cover "Gimme Shelter", from The Rolling Stones, before breaking into the funky and underrated "Even it Up", which also ended with the sounds of "Gimme Shelter." While it was not an official "mash-up" it was an interesting way to combine the sounds of both songs. Furthermore, Heart achieved acoustic perfection with the classic "Dog & Butterfly", sounded funky again on "Straight On" and started the rocking show with "Cook With Fire", a song I had never heard live before.

Heart also played four new songs, from their forthcoming CD "Red Velvet Car", including "Hey You", with Nancy on lead vocals and the title track, which was accompanied by terrific animation featuring Ann and Nancy. Two other new songs, the vocally and lyrically strong "In the Cool" was outstanding and I enjoyed hearing it much better live than the recorded version and if "WTF" does not become a big hit for the band, then something is wrong. Their performance of that song was amazing!

The encore consisted of Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be", which I had never heard Heart perform before, and the band's incredible, rocking rendition of The Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me." Overall, the concert was outstanding and I have no legitimate complaints. However, I would have loved to have heard "Mistral Wind" and "Sand."

In addition to Ann and Nancy Wilson, the band members include Debbie Shair on keyboard, Ben Smith on drums, Craig Bartok on guitar and Christian Attard on bass guitar. The opening act featured singer/songwriter Erick Baker, who hails from Knoxville, TN. His style is a throwback to the classic singer/songwriters of the the 1970's and he possesses a very strong voice, coupled with introspective lyrics about life, love and loss.