The only thing missing were Frisbees, beach balls and some guy named Phil with a bag of marijuana in his pocket. Aside from that – it could have been 1977 as Heart played at the Montreal For … er . … Bell Center last night.
Starting with the instantly recognizable riffs of Barracuda, from Heart’s second album – Little Queen, the crowd at Le Centre Bell were ‘ hooked on classics’. It was the beginning of a soundtrack of a different era. It was the beginning of a soundtrack filled with nostalgia.
Someone forgot to tell the Wilson sisters …
Anne, the elder of the singing sisters ( at the young age of 63 ), along with Nancy (59) – vocally and musically demonstrated what actress and comedienne Betty White has told everyone all along; “Facebook is a waste of time’!
The Wilson sisters, do not appear to spend hours on Facebook. If they do – it is because their natural ability, their God given talent – rests on their souls like a dove would on a patch of grass. The timeless sound of their repertoire, sending everyone over the age of forty, straight to the back seat of a car following an evening of watching ‘Saturday Night Fever‘ at the local Drive – In movie theater. Can it get better than that …?
Once the crowd finished texting, taking pictures and sending messages to their pals in Bangkok or Beaconsfield via the world wide web, the band and crowd set foot into the show. The realization of the present moment, not lost on anyone. For the crowd – it was time to judge. For the band – it was time to produce.
And if the real thing don’t do the trick
You better make something up quick
– Barracuda lyrics
The band’s second song, ‘Fanatic’ off of the same-titled album of 2012, was the ‘boy sits on couch wondering if to kiss girl on couch’ moment. The audience the girl as it wondered ‘should I give my love to these guys’? The song, on the band’s 14th studio album, was good but nothing great. A warm – up for what everyone came to hear. That is the problem with a band like Heart, they must always compete with their older selves. A reality unfair to the ‘new’ songs.
‘Heartless’ and ‘What About Love’ regained the audience’s confidence. Two hard-driving rock songs, the latter showcasing Heart’s ability to balance a feminine softness within a genre normally reserved for long – haired, ripped jean wearing dudes. At least until the Wilson sisters entered the ‘arena’ in 1976.
’59 Crunch, returned everyone back to 2012. A ‘surfing’ song according to Anne. An upbeat rocker which gained the attention of the crowd in a non – nostalgic type of way. Showcasing a band which Anne later explained as ‘Family’. A tight – knit group ripe with power and powered with ripeness.
This was the last stop on the band’s Canadian tour and a thankful Anne explained how Montreal saved the band from obscurity. They opened up for Rod Stewart in 1976, booked as a last-minute replacement. Montreal’s CHOM FM – one of the only stations to play their music.
The band then kicked in to the highest gear. Musically and crowd – pleasing.
‘Magic Man’ was the highlight of the show – rock wise. A ‘kick in the teeth’ awakening which made almost everyone in the crowd start to sing or play air guitar. ‘ Kick it Out’ continued the anthem as the guitars soared into the only song of the evening that seemed dated and somewhat boring.
“Even it Up’ , was introduced by Anne via a tale of burning bras in the early seventies. “Hard to believe ..” Stated Anne. ” Why burn a perfectly nice bra ..” ( tongue planted firmly in cheek). ” I like to think we had something to do with it.”
‘Dreamboat Annie” was introduced as the first song the sisters were not shy of performing in front of their parents. According to Anne; nursery rhymes were penned earlier – not radio kind of songs.
” In life, most times things do not go the way we want. ” Explained Anne. ” It’s fabulous to find the balance. Live life and enjoy right now!”
‘Dog and Butterfly‘ played out beautifully with people unaware of Heart’s softer side taking notice. ‘These Dreams’ brought Nancy Wilson to the forefront with a great acoustic intro. An intro that displayed the sister’s uncanny ability to blend rock and ballads. Anne ‘s voice not losing one ounce of its power over thirty years, a fact proven with a performance on the vocal highlight of the night …
Hearts skipped beats. Tears may have welled in people’s eyes. Jaws dropped as Anne Wilson hit notes so high, so perfectly pitched on ‘Alone’. How can it be possible …? Anne sounded exactly as she did in 1976, the year of the Montreal Olympics. Maybe, stronger. Everyone around the Bell Center embedded in admiration for the daughter of an Army Colonel. A fitting standing ovation engulfed the arena that Corey built.
‘Dear Old America’, a song from 2012’s Fanatic album was written for the sister’s father. A WWII and Korean war veteran who came back ‘beat up on the outside and most importantly – on the inside’, according to Anne. A song filled with emotion and with stars and stripes billowing on the screen behind the sisters. A tribute to dad. A song which only the diehard fans knew …
The last song – ‘Crazy on You’, one of the band’s anthems, raised the crowd to their feet and had people screaming in approval. A classic tune done classically before the group exited stage right …
“Black Dog’, the Led Zeppelin song, arrived first in the form of an encore. An energized version that easily threw down a gauntlet towards Robert Plant via Anne Wilson. It wasn’t Stairway to Heaven which most people hoped for, yet a true version of a great rock song.
Simon Townshend, the younger brother of The Who’s Pete, opened the show for Heart and returned for the encore. Fittingly as the song chosen was part of his Dad’s musical vocabulary.
‘Love, Reign O’er Me‘ from The Who’s classic album Quadrophenia, once more showcased a tight, hard rocking band and Anne Wilson’s vocals. Where as Plant and Roger Daltrey from The Who have lost something over the years, Anne has only gotten stronger. A fantastic ending to a disappointing concert; time wise. Simon even performing his brother’s trademark ‘windmill’ motions on guitar as the tune gathered into a powerful finale.
“What’s this song?” Asked the mid – twenty year old girl seated to my left. “It’s amazing!”
“I know …. ” I replied. “All that is missing is the Frisbees and beach balls. By the way – have you met Phil…?”
- A Marillion Festival (keenemusic.wordpress.com)
- Heart Rock Band Still Soaring Over the Years (vividseats.com)
- Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson still rocking onstage (cbc.ca)