Concert Review: Sisters are the Heart of rock ‘n roll
Ann Wilson performed 13 Heart songs and a cover of Paul McCartney and Wings’ Let Me Roll It Saturday night at Prospera Place.
She followed up with eight deluxe ditties in a rousing Led Zeppelin set with Jason Bonham on drums.
The ageless Wilson should have added The Beatles’ classic When I’m Sixty-Four to her playlist. The words: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” would have drawn a positive response.
The answer from 3,300 Rockin’ Heaven Tour fans in Kelowna would have been a big-time yes after Wilson, who turned 64 in June, proved her powerful voice can still hum in a two-hour concert attended by a predominantly 45-plus crowd.
Wilson has been sober and drug-free since 2009. She has suffered panic attacks because of cruel publicity about her weight. On stage, she’s truly beautiful inside and out. She even told “Mr. Security Man” to back off hassling some overzealous front-row fans.
“They’re just having fun,” said Wilson, who entered the stage wearing all black with funky golden high top shoes, and quickly joined sister, Nancy, 60, in rocking out on Barracuda.
Ann tried to address the concert-goers after the opening hit, but adoring fans drowned her out with applause.
“Here’s a song we wrote a long time ago in Vancouver, off our second album, Little Queen,” said Ann, who then cruised into Heartless.
A backdrop of five vertical panel screens flashed abstract lighting all night, but most people had their eyes fastened to the California-born sisters who formed Heart in 1974, in Seattle. They soon gained a huge following in B.C., playing a packed Vernon Rec Centre in their early years.
After nailing Kick It, Even It Up and Straight On, Nancy told the crowd Heart was in town to celebrate rock and roll before doing a fabulous rendition of Let Me Roll It.
“Anybody remember the ‘80s?” asked Ann, whose voice touched the roof and drew a huge cheer for the sweet love ballad, These Dreams, and a standing ovation for the following Alone.
Ann waxed on about how most songs approved by management were made for radio with some hitting the trash despite the band’s opinion. They played Mashallah “for the people” and received good response.
Monster singles Magic Man and Crazy On You, which started with Nancy strumming her Gibson rhythm guitar madly for two minutes, ended the opening set. The rink went bonkers afterwards.
Heart, who have sold 35 million records, didn’t play giant hit All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You, but had to leave room for the Led Zeppelin covers.
The Wilson sisters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, one year after being asked to perform a tribute to Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors. Ann brought tears of joy to Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant with Stairway to Heaven. The video earned millions of hits and thus, the Led Zeppelin set with dynamic drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Zeppelin drummer, John.
While the sound may have been a little loud for some of the baby boomers, Ann and company – drummer Ben Smith held the sticks beside Bonham for a few songs, lead guitarist Craig Bartock, bass Dan Rothchild and keyboardist Debbie Shair – covered the English rockers with panache.
Heart opened the set with Ann and Nancy sitting on stools up front strumming guitars to play Battle of Evermore before they followed with a few heavier rock tunes, ignoring popular singles Whole Lotta Love and Rock And Roll.
Ann topped the two-hour show with a dazzling Stairway to Heaven, accompanied by the nine-piece Okanagan Singers, who were buried in the corner and could barely be heard from most seats.
Deafening applause followed and the band then joined hands and bowed three times as the house lights flicked on. There was no encore.
Heart landed in Kelowna after concerts in Calgary and Edmonton. They played Canada Day closer to home, in Redmond, Wash.
– Kevin Mitchell is a diehard Heart fan and the sports editor at The Morning Star in Vernon.