As a child of the 70’s and 80’s I had the distinct honor of being able to experience some of the best rock and roll groups of all time during their hey day. It was an amazing time with an eclectic mix of southern rock, folk rock, and hard rock. I witnessed the rock and roll of the early 70’s as it transitioned from politically inspired folky ballads of the 60’s and early 70’s, to the guitar heavy rock and roll of the early 70’s, to the hair bands of the 80’s. They were seamless transitions with the lead singer always amassing a head of curly wild hair they whipped around. The majority of those long hair front men were just that, men. So when the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, came along, I sat up and took notice. How could you not? They took the business by storm. These two broke down barriers and withstood difficulties to forge the way for women to be taken seriously in a male dominated field forever. They were definitely some bad ass ladies, with amazing musical talent, and may I add, they rocked the long hair and makeup so much better.
As I prepared for the show, I had the honor to interview Ann Wilson and ask her a bit about those years. It was an amazing interview and not sure how it could happen, but that pedestal I had placed her on got even higher. She’s an inspirational woman, her strength and perseverance rang through as she and I shared the conversation. She could do it all; she sang, she played, she wrote both songs and books, she arranged, and she drew. Let’s face it, she and her sister are just beyond talented and I could hardly contain my excitement as the sold out show on June 30 at the Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater came upon us. Yep, I was like a kid at Christmas time.
As the crowd filed in, the audience consisted of a diverse mix of generational fans. Whether they were a youngster or just young at “Heart,” these fans were just as excited as I was to be seeing these Rock & Roll Hall of Famers.Some sporting original posters from yesteryear, some with albums that had to be worn to the thin from playing them over and over, and some with flowers to give them as a thank you. These were die hard fans for sure.
As Heart took the stage, they started with their hit, “Magic Man,” and they were spot on vocally. I had to ask myself was it live or Memorex? Trust me, it was definitely live and they pounded out all of their hits and a few covers with such fortitude and prowess throughout the night without skipping a beat or loosing momentum. Both Ann and Nancy had the crowd eating out of their hands and on their feet dancing from the first song till the end note was played. These ladies were rock royalty, and I had to pinch myself as I sat there watching them a few feet away.
For those of you that missed their performance at The Kennedy Center Awards I urge you to please check out their tribute to Led Zepplin as they performed “Stairway to Heaven” as the band looked on. Watching that video gives me chills every time. Ann’s vocals on that song were perfect while Nancy and the band hit every note on queue perfectly. Not many bands can pull off covers as good as the original bands, let alone Led Zepplin covers. They had the crowd on their feet, and the band all chocked up. Ann and Nancy Wilson not only can pull it off, they hit it out of the ball park. Their voices were made to sing Led Zepplin songs. So as they returned to the stage for their encore I was giddy with excitement as they finished their set with three Zepplin covers; Immigrant Song, No Quarter, and Misty Mountain Hop. They started the show strong and ended even stronger, with a standing ovation by this crowd as well.
All in all, this experience was a highlight for me as a photojournalist. Yep, definitely a bucket list moment I can check off. After more than forty years in the business, these ladies, like a fine wine, only got better with age. For those of you not able to see them in Syracuse, never fear. They will be playing July 27th at the Palace Theater.
Heart Set List:
What About Love
Kick It Out
There’s The Girl
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Elton John Cover)
Dear Old America
The Witch (Sonics Cover)
Crazy on You
Immigrant Song (Led Zepplin Cover)
No Quarter (Led Zepplin Cover)
Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zepplin Cover)