If there was any question as to how Heart was holding up more than 40 years into its more than 35 million selling career, all anyone had to do was stick around for its finale rendition of “Stairway To Heaven.” The Led Zeppelin cover came about 80 minutes after Ann and Nancy Wilson first took the stage at the jam-packed FirstMerit Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island, but the former sounded pretty close to Robert Plant in his prime, while her sister kept the guitar charge at an all time high.
Heart even teamed with bill mates Cheap Trick for a jaw-dropping rendition of “Love Hurts” (first recorded by The Everly Brothers) remarking on how they’ve known each other for so many years, but never lose the pleasure of playing together.
Though the entire cast of “The Rock Hall Three For All” didn’t disappoint, the headliners were especially on fire as they unfurled classics such as “Magic Man,” “What About Love?” and “Bebe Le Strange.” And while most of the essential hits appeared, this wasn’t just an oldies show as the ladies also showcased the rollicking title track from their recently released 16th studio album, “Beautiful Broken,” alongside the Ne-Yo-penned ballad “Two.”
Of course, the older “These Dreams” and “Alone” made for the most emotive moments, though the band could also whip up just as ferocious of a frenzy during “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda.” Heart even teamed with bill mates Cheap Trick for a jaw-dropping rendition of “Love Hurts” (first recorded by The Everly Brothers) remarking on how they’ve known each other for so many years, but never lose the pleasure of playing together.
That joy was apparent as Cheap Trick opened up the night, though the Rockford locals would’ve probably been better slated in the second slot, which actually belonged to Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (who declined all press photography). In any case, practically everyone turned up early to catch the Rockford natives as they blazed through an hour of power pop bedrocks and new tunes from “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello” (by far the group’s best since the first go around).
Whether it was the current “No Direction Home” or the tried and true “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender,” Robin Zander still soared pretty high, while guitarist Rick Nielsen continued his dual service as the band’s lean riff master and comedic foil. He even brought out a five neck guitar and tossed out several handfuls of picks throughout the apt finale “Goodnight,” which was followed by a roaring ovation for these local heroes who may have played more than an astounding 5,000 shows, but appear to be having just as much fun at every one.
Upcoming concert highlights at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island include Bryan Adams (July 21); Goo Goo Dolls (July 26); Ray LaMontagne (Aug. 6) and Josh Groban with Sarah McLachlan (Aug. 9); Carnival Of Madness featuring Shinedown (Aug. 16); Mad Decent Block Party (Aug. 21); Counting Crows and Rob Thomas (Aug. 24); Slightly Stoopid (Aug. 26); Fifth Harmony (Aug. 31); The Loop Luau featuring Sammy Hagar & The Circle (Sept. 2) and Pretty Lights (Sept. 23-24). For additional details, visit LiveNation.com.