Heart; Las Vegas 11/13/10

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Heart; Las Vegas 11/13/10

Postby timstar78 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:13 pm

Making the trip to Las Vegas next weekend to see Heart, and will chime in with a review and hopefully photos/video...
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Postby timstar78 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:52 pm

Live in Las Vegas, 11/13/10

Nancy Wilson bathes in a shade of deep blue

People travel to Las Vegas for a variety of reasons. Some look for a weekend getaway at the latest, freshly erected casino; some like the action on the strip; some go there to get married; some maybe even go to catch a first-rate tribute to the King. And yes, some like to gamble.

But I made an abbreviated trip to Las Vegas this past Saturday for something I knew was a sure bet: Heart in concert.

As I picked up my ticket at will call, I noted that it read row "A." And I thought to myself, "Nah, row A couldn't be first row???" Sure enough, as I made the way to my seat, it was indeed first-row accommodations. And for the theater at the Las Vegas Hilton, the distance between the stage and the first row could not have been much more than 6 feet.

All of the sudden I became a bit nervous. As a longtime diehard Heart fan, I've seen the band many times, but this would be my first time experiencing the Wilson sisters and Co. from the first row. I had planned on taking some video with my iPhone, but decided that I had to abort that plan and just try and take in the experience from this rare vantage point.

Heart entered the stage a little after 8 p.m. as the reverberations of the Beatles' "Revolution" faded. Kicking the concert off into high gear, the band dialed up "Cook With Fire," the lead track to the classic 1978 album "Dog & Butterfly." Segueing into "Heartless," Ann Wilson -- at the age of 60 -- belted out her vocals with such command and authority, proving why she is still arguably the preeminent vocalist in rock.

"What About Love?" received an enthusiastic response from the crowd, one of two songs on this evening that would represent the band's smash 1985 self-titled album. Guitarist Craig Bartok did his best to channel Jeff Beck, loosely slipping in and out of notes via volume swells. (Speaking of which, when is the last time you asked yourself, "What about love?")

As drummer Ben Smith pounded his bass drum, the beautiful and talented Nancy Wilson straddled her Telecaster for a funky excursion in the key of B. Bartok traded a few licks for good measure, before Ann launched into "Quite some time...," signaling the start of the '70s classic "Straight On."

(It is during this song that I have my first Nancy "moment" of the evening. Up until this point, I was having plenty of fun grooving to the music and taking advantage of the luxury of watching Ann and Nancy from such a short distance. But in the spirit of having even more fun, I found myself singing the chorus -- "Straight on for you..." I looked Nancy directly in the eye and for some reason I felt it was a good idea to not only sing, but point straight (imagine that) at her. And at that moment she happened to look back at me, smile and point straight back. Now this could have been a dream, or maybe she was pointing to someone behind me, but it doesn't matter. As someone who has had a never-ending crush on Nancy Wilson for many years, and thinks the world of her as a musician, this exchange was enough to make my heart (pun intended) skip a beat or two.)

Next up was the title track from the aforementioned "Dog & Butterfly." As it has been for this recent tour, the song was presented with a new arrangement, with keyboardist Debbie Shair providing accompaniment in the intro and Ann playing flute. The track with this new arrangement is available at Amazon, and well worth a listen. (A nice sister moment, Nancy came over and took Ann's flute and put it its sheath on stage.)

It was then Nancy's turn at the mic. First, she dedicated "These Dreams" to a newlywed couple, and proceeded to pluck the song's famous intro melody on her mandolin. While I will always love the studio version of "These Dreams," the stripped-down arrangement is equally appealing and showcases just what a gorgeous song it is.

(I had my second Nancy "moment" of the evening following "I want to see you clearly," as I locked eyes with Nancy and she smiled yet again. I am sure that Nancy smiles at many people in the crowd over the course of a concert, but I certainly will not forget the one she flashed at me.)

Heart's new album, "Red Velvet Car," was represented with "Hey You," with Nancy trading in the mandolin for the autoharp. This song is one of my favorites from the new album, co-written with producer Ben Mink. Nancy has described the song as being more or less a love letter to her now-ex-husband Cameron Crowe. Knowing this, I can't help wonder what she thinks about when she performs the song....

Picking the pace back up, next was a quasi-cover in the form of the Heart classic "Even It Up" -- from 1980's "Bebe Le Strange" -- cloaked in the music of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." This combination seems to work perfectly as the crowd moved and shook along.

An anthem of true friendship, the title track for "Red Velvet Car" followed. Probably the quietest moment of the evening, and captured in the glow of a simple patch of red lighting, the song was hypnotically beautiful. "In The Cool," a bonus track from "Red Velvet Car," was next. It's hard to fathom that this song, with its lilting music and poetic refrain, was merely a bonus track:

"But in the cool there's a place
I'd lay away the day
And forsake all the hours unkind
When the moon melts the sun
Take my dreams and let 'em run
And roll all this heartache down to none"

I don't know if I recall a Heart concert in which "Alone" was not captivating. It's almost to be expected. Tonight's rendition was no exception. Performed as a trio, with Nancy on guitar and Debbie Shair on keyboards, Ann simply owned the song once again, pouring ounce upon ounce of emotion and passion into her vocal.

Before going into the next song, Ann pointedly asked, "Have you ever asked yourself, 'What the f**k?" As the audience laughed, the band then launched into "WTF," another favorite of mine from "Red Velvet Car." The great thing about "Red Velvet Car" is that many of the subjects on the album are thought-provoking, and this particular song transmits a message of self-examination via a great lyric: "The hardest thing you'll ever learn is what bridge to cross and what bridge to burn."

Three crown jewels in the classic rock catalog followed: "Crazy On You" (with a superb acoustic prelude from Nancy), "Magic Man" and "Barracuda" -- all of which were performed with a vigor and urgency of a band fresh into their career, let alone 35 years in. Nancy's kick before the main riff in "Crazy On You," the famous mellotron drone on "Magic Man," and the odd time signature and sea of harmonics in "Barracuda" were all righteously intact.

(Fun observation: being so close to the action you get to notice the mannerisms of the band and interaction between the members. During the second verse of "Barracuda," Nancy and Craig Bartok grinned at each other across the stage as they fired away on the D-E trill before "No right, no wrong....")

During band introductions, Nancy and Ann traded warm, heartfelt introductions of one another. Ann seemed to be genuinely moved by Nancy's words, as if almost fighting back a tear or two. Another subtle observation, and more proof as to how real and strong the love runs between the Wilson sisters.

Before closing up shop for the evening, the band broke out a pair of covers for an encore. Known for their impeccable Led Zeppelin covers, they whipped up the riff-heavy classic "The Ocean," from 1973's "Houses Of The Holy." As the band ripped this song to shreds, it occured to me that Heart is probably one of the only bands that could perform a concert of Led Zeppelin songs and perform them well.

As has been the case for the shows on this tour, the final song of the evening was the Who's "Love Reign O'er Me." Before starting, the woman next to me whispered, "This is such an amazing version." Indeed, Heart's take on the Townshend-penned classic was not only faithfully performed, but only fitting. After all, who better than Ann Wilson to sing lyrics such as "Only love can bring the rain that makes you yearn to sky."

It was after her final shrieking "Loooooovvvve" that Ann stepped forward to the edge of the stage. Greeted by a thundering applause, she proceeded to reach out her hand to the woman next to me, so I followed suit, extending my hand. Ann smiled and grabbed my hand. For a second, I touched the precious Ann Wilson.

With Ann and Nancy leading the way, Heart never fails to deliver live, and they are surely one "legacy" band still performing at a very high level (and without the aid of any computerized-type enhancements.) The set clocked in at just over 90 minutes. (And yes, I shall wait another day for "Stranded" or "How Can I Refuse?" to be dusted off.) This was my seventh Heart concert in the past 12 months and though the set list has remained fairly rigid, each one has been an experience. But this particular concert will always be special as it was the first time I saw Heart from the first row, and it's the concert where Nancy Wilson smiled at me not once, but twice. Talk about a jackpot....

Set List
"Cook With Fire"


"What About Love?"
"Straight On"
"Dog & Butterfly"
"These Dreams"
"Hey You"
"Gimme Shelter"/"Even It Up"
"Red Velvet Car"
"In The Cool"
"Magic Man"
"Crazy On You"
"The Ocean"
"Love Reign O'er Me"
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