By Danny Sigelman
It was a kick ass night of Rock ‘N’ Roll from two acts that truly represent the upper echelons of Rock Royalty – both high level Queens of the form since the 70’s – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Heart.
While much has been made in the last few years about the split of Ann and Nancy Wilson and some familial issues that thankfully only temporarily ruptured their long career together – it seemed that was possibly the end of their legendary band, Heart. Thankfully the love between them and the music their fans need to hear brought them together for the Love Alive Tour that began this Summer and came to an end for the final night on the road with Joan Jett last night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Joan Jett turned up her and her band, The Blackhearts amps to 11 right out of the gate for a ferocious hour long set that included her vintage punk anthems, “Victim of Circumstance”, a nod to her past with the Runaways, “Cherry Bomb”, in addition to her classics “Bad Reputation”, “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “Light of Day” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You”.
“This is the first song I ever wrote”, Joan introduced the Runaways “You Drive Me Wild”.
Pulling out some deep cuts and covers kept her set fresh as her and the Blackhearts, which included her longtime manager Kenny Laguna on keys and backing vocals bulldozed through “Fragile”, “Fake Friends” and a short but sweet take on the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, “Love is All Around”. “Crimson and Clover” soothed the audience and the phone camera lights came out in a lovely display around the arena that complemented the cool vibes Joan brought to the stage.
After a quick break, the band returned as Joan gave a nod to Heart for including her on the tour and gave a shout out to “a favorite Minnesota songwriter” before a boyant rendition of the Replacements “Androgynous” that dovetailed nicely into Sly and Family Stone’s “Everyday People” that got most of the audience into a boogie groove and thoroughly warmed up for the headliners.
If Joan’s set was turbo-charged, Heart’s was cool and calm with vocal harmonies by the Wilson sisters and sparks of energetic prog guitar jams sprinkled from end to end. After the roadies changed up the stage set with the gear, Heart very casually just kind of walked out and let it rip. Very unassuming and straight to the point, Ann and Nancy found their footing quickly and got the band chugging with “Rockin’ Heaven Down”. The groove didn’t stop, right into “Magic Man” which broke out into psychedelia as a bedrock for Ann’s voice and that killer Moog keyboard solo that brought the energy and coolness to lay the foundation.
Ann’s voice was in top form throughout the night and with the vibe fully intact, Heart demonstrated their roots of playing together as she pulled out her flute and joined Nancy’s vocals, wrapping the melodies around one another for a campfire style version of the Yes jam, “Your Move”.
Heart continued with the tribute to their influences blending Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” that mashed up with their own, “Straight on”. Breaking it down to acoustic guitars they even pulled out another one from left field for the audience to sing along to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”.
“Ok, we’ve done some 60’s for you, some 70’s, now how about the 80’s?” asked Nancy to roaring applause. As was expected, “These Dreams” stripped of all the 80’s production and hairspray sounded celestial, the arena bathed in colorful streams of light. Seriously though, see how long you can watch that video from the 80’s with a straight face. It’s pretty much straight up cheese and hilarious! Heart continued to bounce about their catalog that included a trippy “Dog and Butterfly”, “What About Love” and a fierce “Crazy on You”.
Returning for an encore with gratitude to the audience and their crew, Heart pulled out their now famous version of “Stairway to Heaven”, playing the whole song with perfection and wrapped the set with “Alone” and the inevitable rocker, “Barracuda”.
Rockin’ Heaven Down
I Heard it Through the Grapevine/Straight on
Dog & Butterfly
Even it Up
What About Love
Crazy On You
Stairway to Heaven