Whether she’s fronting Heart or stretching out on her own, Ann Wilson is one of the most distinctive and celebrated women in all of rock. No, make that one of the genre’s ultimate voices of any gender, a fact she repeatedly hammered home alongside four supporting musicians at a comfortably crowded House Of Blues.
No matter the style or stature of a particular song, Wilson conquered each challenge while appearing overjoyed at the freedom found in this unique opportunity to evolve beyond what’s typically expected in her primary partnership.
Wilson wet everyone’s appetite with The Who’s “The Real Me,” but then wasted no time consecutively tackling a trio of Heart mega-hits. The snarling “Barracuda” and the buzzing “Crazy On You” found the rugged end of Wilson’s voice coming across as if little time had passed since the 1970s, though she was equally at home with the more sensitive side of a deconstructed “What About Love.”
Following just four more songs, including the bluesy solo selection “Fool No More” and Elvis Presley’s steamy “One Night,” Wilson took an intermission, and while that temporarily halted the momentum, she soon returned with a bright pink coat and rejuvenated spirit. Heart’s relatively recent “A Million Miles” kicked off the second half with an exploration of the group’s rarely explored electronic side, followed by remakes as wide-ranging as Yes’ “I’ve Seen All Good People,” The Black Crowes’ “She Talks To Angels” and the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush collaboration “Don’t Give Up.”
Throughout the nearly two-hour performance, Wilson wasn’t entirely perfect, but she came pretty darn close, especially for someone who’s now 66. And she’s also just as brave as ever when it comes to selecting material, whipping everyone into a frenzy with The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” going sky high on Heart’s understated “Alone” and then returning to what very well could’ve been an audition should Roger Daltrey ever need a stand-in with “Love, Reign O’er Me.”
A double round of encores ranged from Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” (channeled through some “Sympathy Of The Devil”-like beats), Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” (complete with a crystal ball) and Ray Charles’ “The Danger Zone” (accompanied by only keys). No matter the style or stature of a particular song, Wilson conquered each challenge while appearing overjoyed at the freedom found in this unique opportunity to evolve beyond what’s typically expected in her primary partnership.
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For additional information on Ann Wilson, visit AnnWilsonOfHeart.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at House Of Blues include Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot (Jun. 17); The Road To Warped Tour (Jun. 22); Dee Jay Silver (Jun. 23); Tribute To Grunge (Jun. 24); Curt Cohiba (Jun. 29); Soja (Jun. 30); Michelle Branch (Jul. 6); Walk Off The Earth (Jul. 7); Robert Cray Band (Jul. 8) and Johnny Orlando & MacKenzie Ziegler (Jul. 9). For additional details, HouseOfBlues.com/Chicago.