For (amazingly) the first time in their illustrious career, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers, Ann and Nancy Wilson, brought their Heart(s) to the Hollywood Bowl. Backed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Heart transformed some of their hits into versions that sometimes transcended the originals.
Never shy about exalting their influences, Heart kicked off the evening with a pulsing cover of “Kashmir“. The Orchestra led by Principal conductor, Thomas Wilkins, helped elevate the Led Zeppelin classic. It was followed up by “Heaven” found only on their “Alive in Seattle” album which kind of lost the crowd for a bit. But that was short lived, as “What About Love” brought the bowl back to life. The Wilson sisters still sound pristine and Ann’s vocals are as vibrant as ever.
The band then transformed the bowl back to the 70’s with “Dreamboat Annie” (With Ann on the flute), “Dog & Butterfly“, “Kick It Out“, “Straight On” and “Even It Up” all in succession. The changing colors of the Bowl provided a tie dyed background for this part of the set. And the only thing missing were bell bottoms, and the wafting smell of weed. Ok..so all that was missing were bell bottoms…
It was then Nancy’s turn to shine on vocals (and over-sized acoustic guitar) while Ann harmonized on a beautiful cover of Elton John‘s “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters“. Next up was a reprieve for those introduced to Heart in the 80’s as they were rewarded with “These Dreams” with a very complimentary accompaniment by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra followed up by an emotional and powerful version of “Alone“.
As the sisters started the evening with Zeppelin, they also ended their main set with “Stairway to Heaven“; the same heartfelt rendition that brought the remaining Zeppelin band members to their feet while they were being celebrated during the Kennedy Center Honors.
As the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra filtered off stage after their performance, it allowed enough time for the band to get a breather before they returned (sans orchestra) for their encore. Nancy’s short acoustic solo intro’d the classic rocking version of “Crazy on You“, which was followed up by the crunching intro to “Barracuda“. These two rockers made me long for a Heart-only set. Although it wasn’t lost on me that seeing them backed up by a full orchestra was truly a special treat.
The casual fan might have been a little disappointed with the evening’s song selections. I was with 3 of them. My friend Jen, my sister Sara and her friend Jean (both visiting from Northern Ireland) all would have preferred to hear more of a “Heart“/”Brigade” heavy set. Where was “Never“? Where was “Looks that Kill“? Where was “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You“? But Heart are a band, who in more recent years, prefer to lean on their past, and for someone who appreciates their 70’s origins, I was happy with their nod to the past (Although… where was “Magic Man“?!)