Heart Struts Rock New and Vintage in Bethlehem, Pa.
Heart still rocks. Period. Armed with four decades of music -- including plenty of well-received tunes from brand new album "Fanatic" -- sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson showed off this fact Saturday night (Oct. 13) at Pennsylvannia's Sands Bethlehem Events Center for a large crowd that came ready to abandon their seats, scoot to the front and take it all in from as close as possible.
Veteran Austin, Texas singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo and his band The Sensitive Boys -- an inspired choice for a opening act - did a good job warming up the audience for Heart with a rollicking 45 minute set that included tunes new ("Big Station") and moving ("Sister Lost Soul" - a ballad he sent out to "those gone in the rock and roll circus").
The interlocking powers of Nancy Wilson's guitar with Ann Wilson's powerhouse vocals were on display as soon a Heart took the stage for the title track from "Fanatic." Mid-70s single "Heartless," 1985 hit "What About Love," and two more new tunes ("Mashallah" and "59 Crunch," which did thanks to Nancy's playing) got a warm reception, but it was the next song, "Even It Up," that got people to their feet.
With a poignant look, Nancy introduced "Fanatic" tune "Walkin' Good," as a song about "the way it feels when you're starting to get over it," before she grabbed a mandolin, broke into a big smile, quipped, "Misty fairy's and stuff? That's the '80s" and kicked into the band's 1986 Hot 100 No. 1 "These Dreams." Joking about Heart's '80s reinvention as pop-metal power balladeers aside, the Sands Bethlehem Event Center crowd was moved from cheers on "These Dreams" into full on screaming as Ann Wilson took over on vocals for a chilling rendition of the 1987 No. 1 "Alone." Lest anyone not have already been impressed by this woman's amazing voice, this quasi a cappella version "Alone," having shed many of its now-dated '80s trappings, showcased those pipes to great effect.
But of course, before Heart was ever a staple of '80s pop radio, they were badass '70s rockers and it was this side of the band that Ann and Nancy whipped out to bring their main set to a crescendo: Nancy strumming furiously into "Crazy On You" before leaving the stage after an energetic, chugging go at "Barracuda."
The two-song encore, which found plenty of fans -- millennial and boomer -- compelled to the front of the stage, got hair flailing with "Magic Man." And as if it weren't already obvious, Heart, who are among the nominees for the 2013 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, hinted at just how well they would fit in among the Rock Hall's legends by closing the night with a killer cover of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" that affirmed that Ann Wilson's vocals were every bit as awesome at Robert Plant's.