Heart keeps audience pumped

Tara Bradbury
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Wilson sisters "strong, energetic, fun, and absolutely rockin"

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have reinvented themselves plenty over the past 35 years —bar-playing acoustic hippies to rock ‘n’ roll chicks to makeup and glitter girls of the 80s — and at their show at Mile One Centre Friday night, they proved they have no intention of giving up any time soon.

Mile One was Heart’s first stop on the Canadian leg of their tour in support of “Red Velvet Car,” their first album since 2004’s “Jupiter’s Darling.” The album debuted at No. 10 on the charts the first week of its release.

While the Mile One show wasn’t a sellout, there weren’t many empty seats, and it was a raucous crowd that was ready to rock, not content to stay sitting for very long. I didn’t see a single person under the age of 25, and only a handful under 30.

After an hour-long set by ginger-haired Cape Breton solo rocker Carmen Townsend — who was hand-picked to open the Canadian shows by Ann and Nancy — and a 20-minute intermission, the house lights dimmed, and incense burned on a corner of the stage. While I was expecting to hear the blazing opening riffs of “Crazy on You” or “Barracuda,” the show kicked off with spotlights on the band’s drummer and percussionist, who started the opening beats to “Cook With Fire,” from the “Dog and Butterfly” record. Out walked Nancy, joining in on the guitar, and then Ann, wearing sequined boots, a black dress and a black jacket with an Elvis-style sequined peace sign on the back, playing the flute.

“We have been welcomed like we’ve never been welcomed before. We’ve been Screeched in, kissed the fish, and we’re here to tell,” Ann told the crowd, before launching into “Straight On,” and then “What About Love.”

Switching between acoustic and electric guitars, 56-year-old Nancy was the most energetic of the sisters, literally running around in circles during riffs and doing high jumps. Ann, 60, sang with a voice that hasn’t changed since “Dreamboat Annie,” Heart’s first album, was released in the mid-1970s, and was every bit as strong on stage as on CD.

Some softer songs from “Red Velvet Car” saw Nancy bring out the harpsichord, while the rowdy “WTF” had the audience screaming.

The group’s performances of “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda” as well as a medley of “Even it Up” and The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” were well-appreciated by the crowd, but it was “Alone” that stole the show: while the stage was bathed in a blue light, and accompanied only by a piano and Nancy on acoustic guitar and harmonies, Ann performed an amazing stripped-down, slowed-down, haunting rendition of the song that earned a standing ovation from the crowd.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t forget any of the words to that one, because you knew them all,” Ann told the audience.

Heart returned to the stage for two encores, including a version of Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Never Should Be,” which were well-done, but rather anti-climactic after the exciting previous hour and a half, and left the audience calling out to hear “All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You.” Interestingly, Ann has spoken in the past about the band’s dislike for the song, which was written by Mutt Lange, saying they had “sworn off it because it kind of stood for everything (they) wanted to get away from.”

All told, any music fan who missed Friday night’s show missed out: like Ann and Nancy, it was strong, energetic, fun, and absolutely rockin’.


Twitter: tara_bradbury

Organizations: Led Zeppelin

Geographic location: Cape Breton

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Recent comments

  • Matt White
    February 03, 2011 - 19:27

    Amazing concert. They put on quite the show!

  • willy
    February 01, 2011 - 06:33

    I was to the concert as well, it was great. in regards to the song "all I want to do is make love to you", I was disappointed as well that they didn't play it. Even though they probably don't like this song, fans made it a supper hit and i think that they owe it to the fans to play it. If the fans over the years didn't purchase these songs, there would not be a "Heart" group.

  • sandy
    January 31, 2011 - 23:38

    I was seated on the floor real close to the stage, I was there with 2 ppl under 25..so yeah there were not all older ppl there. I had the best time, rocked out to every song! Been a Heart fan for as long as I can remember..maybe even longer then that..they are my #1 fave band of all time so it was very exciting for me! I thought the show was amazing, I wasn't particular picky over what they sang, they have such a huge collection of songs all of which are good, So i was happy with what they sang and how the show was put off. I love all their music, the 70's 80's 90's and current!

  • Lucy
    January 31, 2011 - 23:30

    Terry, just curious, how would you know if there were any members of the press in the crowd? They don't actually wear those fedora hats with the "press" ticket tucked in them, you know. Just saying. Awesome concert!

  • ed power
    January 31, 2011 - 17:21

    I have to support the comments by Terry Sears above. My wife and I were seated at row U on the floor level and were surrounded by a sea of twenty and thirty something "youngsters". As we were seated at the first row of the second section we got to see all the people who were making the circuit between the bars, the floor and the washrooms and most of these people were in the younger age groups. Perhaps my demographic analysis is skewed by the fact that we were a couple of greying boomers ,sitting in the moshpit normally occupied by the Gen X,Y and Zeders' , but there were certainly more fully haired people around us than there were of us in follicley challenged age group. Age related nitpicking aside, it was an excellent concert. Old stuff, new stuff and two encores.

  • Joanie
    January 31, 2011 - 16:53

    I agree with Tara as well... A fantastic show. What a blast from past!!! Although there were many young people attending including my 17 year old daughter who rocked out at the show.

  • terry sears
    January 31, 2011 - 14:30

    I agree 100% that the show was fantastic, but are you sure you were there Tara? You commented that you didn't see a single person under 25 and only a handful under 30???? Maybe you should have come down out of the press box, or wherever it was you viewed it from, and had a look around. My wife and i were amazed at how many young people there were at the show. We saw many, many early teens, and hundreds of late teens to early twenties. We had to stand in the main lobby for 20 minutes drinking our coffee because we weren't allowed to bring it inside. With nothing to do for 20 minutes, you watch the crowds. Did'nt see any press mingling around with the common folk.......

    • Vic
      January 31, 2011 - 23:18

      Holy nitpicking, Terry!!! I was there too, and saw maybe a dozen young people (with their parents), but even if you saw more, who cares? On the whole it was more of a mature audience there and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. You saw what you saw, the writer saw what she saw, a review is one person's opinion. At least we can all agree it was AN EXCELLENT show, and the show (not the audience) was the point of the review. Loved it and great pics!!!!!