First Counsel Casino
March 10, 2012
By Jeb Wright
Even It Up | Magic Man | Kick It Out | What About Love | Straight On | Dog and Butterfly | Never | Mistral Wind | Mashalla | These Dreams | Alone | Crazy on You | Barracuda
Sand | Misty Mountain Hop
Heart hit the road, playing the first date on their current tour in the tiny town of Newkirk, Oklahoma, at the First Council Casino. The band trekked through these parts a year before and performed well, sparking word of mouth to fill the event center to capacity.
With a standing room only crowd of Heart Mongers cheering for the band to take the stage, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were all smiles as they blasted into the classic tune “Even It Out” from 1980’s Bebe le Strange. In fact, nearly half of the songs played in concert on this night were from the classic 1976-1980 era of the band, which is easily the hardest rocking part of Heart’s history. Even though some ‘80’s standards were not trotted out, the crowd didn’t seem to care, as the songs that were played were performed to perfection.
“Magic Man” surprised the audience being brought out second in the set list. Their reaction showed that the band made the right decision. Next up was “Kick It Out” from 1977’s Little Queen, which saw Nancy jumping and kicking throughout the tune, all the while with a huge grin on her face. Ann, not to be outdone, hit every note and then some, her voice is powerful and evokes a sense of awe from anyone listening to her perform. Now in her 60’s, it is a testament to her God given abilities and work ethic to be performing at the top of her game when many of her contemporaries are beginning to settle for less.
Ann was on fire during “Straight On” and when she brought out her flute for “Dog and Butterfly” she changed directions and mellowed the crowd – temporarily.
The biggest musical surprise of the set was the epic “Mistral Wind” from 1978’s Dog and Butterfly. Heart fanatics were in heaven seeing this rarely played song performed, while younger Heart fans were not sure what they were witnessing, prompting Ann to address the crowd at the song’s conclusion stating, “Well, it was the 1970’s.” She continued talking to the audience, nearly begging them to allow the band to play a song titled “Marshalla” from the bands upcoming new studio release saying, “Really, it’s a pretty cool song. Please let us play it for you.” If the new album follows this songs lead then the band is returning to their 1970’s roots, as this was a rocking tune with a very cool electric edge to it.
The Heart fans that came on board for Heart’s massive 1985 self-titled LP were not left out as “What About Love” and “Never” were performed early on while “These Dreams” and “Alone,” from the following years Bad Animals, were played back-to-back late in the set. As good as these songs were, however, tonight belonged to the classic hard rock era. The crowd was on their feet, singing along to every word during the final two songs of the night, “Crazy on You” from Heart’s 1976 debut Dreamboat Annie and the hard rockin’ “Barracuda” from the group’s sophomore effort Little Queen.
The band left the stage after “Barracuda” but the crowd would not let them off the hook without an encore. The two sisters took the stage alone brandishing two acoustic guitars. Ann addressed the crowd that one of her three dogs had recently passed away and dedicated the solemn song “Sand” from Heart’s latest studio effort, Red Velvet Car to the memory of her dog.
The entire band rejoined the stage at the end of the tribute and raised the roof with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Misty Mountain Hop.” Ann was the star of the song as she belted notes that would make Robert Plant jealous. In fact, if Zep ever wants to do a reunion tour and Plant pooh-poohs the idea, then they could simply replace him with Ann Wilson and no one would be worse for the ware!
If Heart can keep the energy they displayed on this night, then they should be kicking ass and taking names during 2012. They are off on the right foot with a righteous set list and sounding better than ever, proving that when it comes to rock and roll, age can be like a fine wine…it just makes everything better. @