CONCERT REVIEW: Heart Rocks Sold Out Wolf Trap

Ann Wilson of Heart is considered one of the preeminent rock singers of all time. Photo by Stacy Shaw.

The band Heart encompasses more than 40 years of great music; they’re the embodiment of the “heck with everybody, we’ll do what we want” attitude that has kept them going for that long. And that attitude was evident to the capacity crowd Tuesday night at Wolf Trap.

Sans opening act, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson and band took the stage at 8 p.m. and launched into the classic “Magic Man.” The band quickly settled into their classics “Heartless,” “What about Love?” “Dreamboat Annie,” (with Annie playing flute), and “Even it Up.”

Ann, one of rock’s most powerful singers, belted out a range of tunes all evening, from the energetic “Straight On” to the gentler “Little Queen,” which she described as “a song from way back when…it talks about how spoiled someone can be.”

Claiming she also wants “to sing a little, since I’ve got a mic stand,” Nancy emerged to sing lead on a cover of Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Let Me Roll it.”

Prior to the next song, the intricate, folk-inspired “Heaven,” which saw Nancy channeling Jimmy Page as she played her upright acoustic guitar with a violin bow, while Anne strummed an autoharp, Ann declared that from a songwriter’s perspective, her songs are her babies, but their record company always prefers the band sound like they do on the radio.

Sisters Nancy (left) and Ann (right) Wilson performed an evening of classic rock tracks that captivated the sold out audience at Wolf Trap Tuesday. Photo by Stacy Shaw.

The 80’s power ballads were also on display here, much to the delight of the audience. While the band performed “What about Love?” straight from the script, Nancy emerged from the background, clutching her mandolin, to offer a vocal performance on “These Dreams” that eschewed the excess of the original song for a more streamlined, sentimental stroll.

One of the evening’s most powerful moments was Ann’s explosive rendition of Heart’s biggest commercial hit “Alone,” which featured the trio of Ann, Nancy on guitar, and keyboardist Debbie Shair.

“Love, we can’t seem to leave this topic alone; it’s our favorite topic, “ she told the audience.

The band returned to their hard rock roots with the newer “Mashallah” and the classic “Crazy On You,” while ending their hour and a half-long main set with fan-favorite “Barracuda.”

The band quickly returned to the stage for their well-publicized encore of Led Zeppelin songs. Earlier in their tour, they brought along Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son Jason to play an extended tribute of five or six songs. However, this night, without Bonham, the band only offered the “Immigrant Song,” “What is and What Should Never Be,” and “Misty Mountain Hop.” (Granted, Ann’s vocal performance could rival Robert Plant’s on his best day!)

Guitarist Craig Bartock traded solos with Nancy Wilson throughout the evening. Photo by Stacy Shaw.

Heart delivered a show rife with powerful moments, yet the concert seemed less intimate than perhaps the venue deserved. Nestled in the scenic woods, Wolf Trap offers bands opportunities to connect to audiences in unique ways, whereas this show seemed somewhat programmed. However, no one can argue that Heart is a phenomenal live band, with an enduring legacy of delivering diverse music styles and soaring vocal performances.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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