Heart's sold-out concert last night at the Hard Rock Rocksino reinforced the concept that these classic rockers despise resorting to nostalgia for impact. After opening the 75-minute set with a slinky, funky version of "Magic Man," the band launched directly into "Heartless," whose dueling chorus vocals between sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were as sharp as a fine-point pen. Subsequent tunes were just as punchy: "Bebe Le Strange" felt like a vintage punk rave-up; Ann Wilson erased any '80s cheese from "What About Love" by injecting bluesy swagger into her vocal performance; and the already-fierce "Kick It Out" had more guitar oomph and rhythmic swing than normal. You can see a slideshow from the concert here
The sheer power of these moments made the mid-set performances of the vulnerable ballads "These Dreams" and "Alone" feel somewhat out of place. Yet a rare (and welcome) performance of the Nancy Wilson-fronted standout "There's The Girl" was more successful, despite a muted crowd response: The song matched shimmery retro keyboards with the younger Wilson's pleading, mysterious vocals.
Heart was clearly having a great time performing and sounded looser and more energized than they did at their 2013 Blossom concert with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience. Ann Wilson's rubbery facial expressions and animated gestures especially delighted, while sister Nancy Wilson's irrepressible onstage kicks and twirls as she performed felt more playful. Paradoxically, this didn't dampen her performance: In fact, both her acoustic guitar intro to "Crazy On You" and cascading electric guitar intro to "Barracuda" possessed more bite.
The same can also be said about Heart's cover choices at the show. "This is a Seattle song," the band noted matter-of-factly, before launching into a wicked, raw take on the Sonics' garage-rock classic "The Witch." In turn, this nugget was preceded by a roaring take on another gem, Robin Trower's "Day of the Eagle." And to cap off the night, the encore featured a trio of Led Zeppelin covers, including a galloping, rumbling "Immigrant Song" and a sprawling "No Quarter"; the latter found Ann Wilson lightheartedly howling like a wild animal at the line, "The dogs of doom are howling more." The concert ended with an exuberant take on "Misty Mountain Hop," which found the Wilson sisters shimmying, grinning and bouncing along to the music, first and foremost still fans of the song.