Friday night’s tour stop at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena showcased new songs, imaginative covers and classic fan faves with the sisters of Heart once again proving their mettle in the spotlight. Review, photos.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERIES
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
The crowd seemed to wake up when iconic sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson took the stage for “Rockin’ Heaven Down.” It was the first of several deep cuts in the 90-minute show, which showcased some rarely heard tunes and live debuts.
People got to their feet and danced to “Magic Man,” with its hot guitars and iridescent keyboards, only to slow down and contemplate the universe to Ann Wilson’s mystical flute solo in “Love Alive,” also the name of the tour. When she wasn’t blowing into it, Ann whipped her flute around like a sword to the music.
“We are back together after a few years pursuing solo careers,” said Ann, addressing (sort of) the painful fissure the two sisters experienced in 2016 over a family drama. “We come back to Heart with lots of freshness.”
The freshness translated into some artistic renderings of their tunes and those of others. “Straight On” was book-ended by Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it Through the Grapevine” for an imaginative and unexpected musical weave.
Guitarist Nancy took center stage and chatted about how her family always sang together when they were growing up, at home, in the car, at the grocery store—everywhere. “This is one of the songs we used to sing,” she said, breaking into Simon and Garfunkel’s sweet gem “The Boxer” on the acoustic guitar with sister Ann blending in on the harmonies.
They weren’t finished playing other people’s songs, throwing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and Yes’ “Your Move” into the mix.
Did the twosome cover too many tunes? Maybe, but they also visited their own vault, dusting off 1994’s “Back To Avalon” and debuting Ann Wilson’s solo “Anguish.” (Scroll down for set list.)
But who were they kidding? The fans wanted to hear songs from one decade and one decade only: 1976 -1986, give or take a year or two.
“All I have to do is say ”80s’ and the hair on the back of your neck stands up,’” Ann quipped.
CROWD-PLEASING ‘CRAZY ON YOU,’ AND OF COURSE, ‘BARRACUDA’
The meandering “These Dreams” and “What About Love” (“I love this song,” Ann cooed about the latter) made everyone sway, and maybe even caused the hairs on the backs of their necks to stand up.
The sisters innovated some more with “Crazy on You,” a giant crowd pleaser. At first, the song was as wailing and inflamed as ever, generating some high kicks from Nancy, and then they reduced it to a slow simmer at the end. It was as if they were saying, “You think you know this song, but you don’t. Let us show you another side to it.”
All night long, the duo added such creative flourishes, making the show feel “fresh” indeed.
The sisters’ anger at one another seemed to have burned out, and they presented a united front. Thankfully for eager fans, they could pour their combined passion into the ever-coolest, “Barracuda,” wisely left for the encore.
Sheryl Crow was also in vibrant, creative form, delivering a breezy, beachy hit parade of her consistently well-crafted songs plus a couple of instantly endearing new tunes.
Though slightly on autopilot with some of the oldies, including her opener “A Change Would Do You Good,” Crow kicked it up several notches in energy debuting two forthcoming tunes.
From the upcoming album “Threads,” “Prove You Wrong” recorded with Stevie Nicks and Maren Morris, was rollicking good fun, a summery tune dipped in buttermilk batter and steel guitar. Crow is an incredible songwriter who obviously has not lost her touch.
“Still the Good Old Days,” recorded with Joe Walsh, was every bit as engaging and sunshiny as monster hits “All I Wanna Do” and “Soak Up the Sun.” Her enthusiasm for the new songs was so confident, so joyful, the crowd followed her lead and collectively went for it, clapping and bopping along though they were unfamiliar with them.
The songs were catchy, effervescent and elevating. Sheryl Crow may be, as she said, “in the middle ages,” but as a musician and songwriter she may be just getting started.
Opening the show was Nashville-based Kiwi singer Lucie Silvas, who warmed up the crowd nicely with her appealing blend of funk, pop, and blues. Two highlights were her cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” and the title track of her new album, “E.G.O.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Heart at Van Andel Arena
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC