RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Heart - Live at Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rating: B

When the band Heart does something for the first time they go big.  For instance, despite 40 years of hits the band had never played the Royal Albert Hall.  They had also never done a film of the band performing with a full orchestra… so, why the heck not do both! Recorded June 29, 2016, this will be Heart’s eighth live album.

While Heart really is synonymous in 2016 with Ann and Nancy Wilson, they have a solid enough band—though not nearly the band they had during any era that included Howard Leese or the riffs of Roger Fisher.  Still, the band that continues to be called Heart (the Ann and Nancy Wilson band) is solid enough to play the hits and some Zep.  They do a fine job.  The Sisters continue to create new music, though, like most new music from classic bands it is widely ignored beyond their fan base.  Although, so are releases just like this one. But Heart is smart enough to realize this, so they throw in the classics along with some newer material from their latest studio album Beautifully Broken.  Other than the band, and the fan club members though, most Heart fans and rock fans will be most concerned with hearing their favorites played with orchestra.

They do a fine job it must be said. “What About Love” should sound odd with an orchestra but it does not.  The strings fit in well and the lack of big guitars is forgiven as the band experiments with the orchestra.  It really does work on this tune.   In fact, it works on all of the songs.   “These Dreams” is more haunting with the orchestra and takes on a new attitude.  “Alone” really shines slowed down with piano and orchestra.  The feeling of being alone comes across stronger as well.  “Magic Man” sounds like so many rockers that have orchestras playing with them—it is cool to hear once or twice.  The electric guitars and orchestra are co-existing and finding common ground where there should not be any.  Over time, however, the rocking songs sound better rocking so the orchestration on these tunes is a bit more of a novelty.

The Line-Up for the show featured Ann Wilson (Vocals); Nancy Wilson (Guitar & Vocals); Ben Smith (Drums); Dan Rothchild (Bass); Craig Bartock (Guitar); Chris Joyner (Keyboards) and, of course, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nick Davies. The chemistry between the rock band and the classical musicians is apparent.  There is no snobbery here.  They work well together.  One of the best songs is the Led Zeppelin remake “No Quarter.”  Mixing the orchestra in with the classic song is spellbinding.

Ann Wilson is such a huge talent that she is still the main event.  Her vocals overshadow everything going on here.  She is perhaps the best female rock vocalist of all time and here, once again, she proves why she has that reputation. To be fair, female or not, she is among the best rock vocalsts of time...period. 

At the end of the day, this is a solid effort.  The band plays all eras of their career and the visual is as compelling as the audio.

This is a hit. 

Track Listing
Magic Man
Dreamboat Annie
What About Love
I Jump
Sweet Darlin'
These Dreams
Beautiful Broken
Silver Wheels / Crazy On You
No Quarter
Kick It Out

By Dreamboat Jebbie Wright