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Heart's thrilling performance blows away hometown crowd
Heart's thrilling performance blows away hometown crowd
by Richard Kennedy - SGN A&E Writer

Heart August 23 @ WaMu Theater Great performances are even better with an exciting crowd. Heart at WaMu Theater was certainly proof positive of that notion.

The moment the lights went down and the musicians made their way on stage, the crowd rushed to the front. The two leads hadn't even entered the spotlight yet and security didn't have a chance of breaking up the mob. Lesbians love women who rock and they were scattered about the screaming mass, mixed in with the Gay Heart fanatics. Both groups blended with the mostly 50-something, classic rock-loving crowd. Assigned seating on the front section of the floor was a memory as Ann and Nancy Wilson entered from the darkness to the sound of an ocean shore, reminiscent of their debut album Dreamboat Annie. It fit nicely as the show opened with "Soul of the Sea", setting the mood for a night of mostly classic rock hits from the two musical goddesses.

When Nancy hit the first opening riffs of "Magic Man" on her guitar, you could feel electricity shoot through the room. It's an iconic rock jam and it was truly spine-tingling hearing it played by its original creator. She was decked out in a long black blouse, faded blue jeans and sported a grown-out perm with her trademark red hair. Ann, in a long black velvet coat and combat boots, began, "Cold late night, so long ago, when I was not so strong you know&" and by the time she belted out the chorus to the famous anthem, they had the whole lot banging their heads and shaking their fists in the air. Ann let us all know right there that the years have done nothing to her voice. Continuing on with "Little Queen" and "Straight On," her vocals screamed, belted and shook the rafters.

By five songs in, the entire floor section had turned to general admission. Many from the back had found their way to the front, certainly breaking the rules, but never unruly or rude.

"Thanks for defying the security guards!", Ann joked to the devotees as they cheered her on. "There's nothing that distracts me more and makes me forget lyrics than seeing security making the fans get back to their seats!" With that, she and Nancy, both on acoustic guitars, broke into "Dog and Butterfly." While it was impressive that both vocals and music sounded like perfection, it was a little surprising that there weren't any recreated arrangements. It truly sounded like studio recordings, to their credit of course, but it's always nice to hear new takes on old favorites by artists of their caliber.

Ann introduced a new song from her upcoming solo album that turned out to be a cover of John Lennon's "Isolation," which was a perfect compliment to her soaring vocals and their time-honored set list. It was Nancy's turn on vocals with one of just two of their 80's hits they performed. "These Dreams" turned out to be the song that finally received a re-worked arrangement. More acoustic, it accommodated Nancy's softer voice, which was perfect for a love ballad like this. "Alone" came right after, with Ann giving an almost operatic performance for this 80's anthem. I knew it worked when I heard the longhaired, straight rocker-dude next to me say in shock, "Wow&that really gave me CHILLS!"

Getting back to the 70's, the lights went out and sounds of thunder and lightning erupted through the house. The before-mentioned dude's girlfriend exclaimed in her smoky voice, "This is going to be FUCKING POWERFUL!" If I hadn't seen and heard it, I would never believe that a song by The Who could be turned into a rock-diva explosion.

The opening lines with heavy guitar and bass began, "Only love can make it rain, the way the beach is kissed by the sea" and erupted with Ann crying "Love, Reign O'er Me" at the chorus. Without a moments' wait, the final rumble of thunder silenced, Nancy wailed the first notes of "Barracuda," and the whole place went bat-shit crazy. An entire row of hot gay boys, about where the 4th row from the center should have been, were jumping up and down, clapping their hands with hundreds of diehards around them. The two native Seattle sisters were drenched in sweat but plowed on with "Crazy on You" before bidding a frenzied crowd goodnight. After coming back for encores, Ann looked out and told everyone it was "impossible to explain how it feels to play home." She humbly said it was the "deepest, coolest, best feeling ever!"

With what has become an encore favorite for the two legends, they ripped into Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Once again, Ann's vocals devoured every instrument and voice that tried to match it, including the crowd who joined in on every "ah yeah, ahhh, ahhh" that she cried. The night was brilliantly and beautifully closed with "Dog and Butterfly," complete with Ann's flute solo.

Next to Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, the Wilsons are the most revolutionary women of rock. To see and hear them today, when many of the rockers from their generation are out of the spotlight, is nothing short of breathtaking.

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