Heart singer Ann Wilson’s passionate wails can still send a shiver up the spine in 1987

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 4, 1987

By Steve Newton

Heart has come along way from the days when they used to play high-school dances and small-town community halls across B.C. They drew 12,000 fans to the Pacific Coliseum last Friday (August 28), and the predominance of David Bowie and Huey Lewis t-shirts in the crowd was testament to the band’s entry into the big leagues of mainstream rock.

The opened Friday’s show with “Bad Animals”, a rather lumbering and forgettable number, and lead singer Ann Wilson must have taken a lot of people aback by the amount of weight she’s put on lately. Mind you, nobody ever tried telling Aretha Franklin or Ella Fitzgerald they were too chubby to sing. Wilson can still belt ’em out like nobody’s business, and by the third song of the show, the pyretic “Barracuda”, the music itself had become the main attraction.

Ann dedicated 1985’s hit single “What About Love” to the ladies in the audience, and foxy sister Nancy showed she knows her way around a fretboard pretty well, matching lead guitarist Howard Leese not-for-note on several tunes. Ann pulled out a flute for the spellbinding title track to their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, which lost a bit of its pastoral effect when some doorknob at the front of the stage pelted her quite viciously with a bunched-up jacket. Wilson took the cheap shot in stride and led the band through a balanced mixture of ballads (“These Dreams”, “Want You So Bad”) and rockers (“”Straight On”, “How Can I Refuse”). The old fave “Crazy On You” brought the biggest cheers of recognition and was a vocal tour de force for Ann, whose passionate wails can still send a shiver up the spine.

The group ended its 75-minute set with “If Looks Could Kill”, a rager from their self-titled album of ’85. (They could have used a few such barn-burners for their latest record, Bad Animals.) They came back on for a four-song encore that included “Bebe Le Strange”, “Magic Man”, “Alone”, and Led Zep’s “Rock and Roll”. During the latter tune one hardy fan managed to climb up and elude roadies while he traversed various runways to the top of the stage. It fook five security guys to finally drag him off, kicking and screaming.

At least he’ll have something to tell his grandchildren.

 

 

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