Heart was no bucket-list act for me before Friday, but I was a bit curious. Why were the Wilson sisters (whom I’d only seen previously encore-guesting with Pearl Jam in 2003) held in such high regard by several music critics whose opinions I trust? Why were they selected for the Rock Hall last year, despite a dreck-dotted recording résumé? And would they sound anything like the superb ’70s version recently showcased in the Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highway series (Seattle edition)? I popped into House of Blues for Night 1 of a three-show run to find out for myself.
The group came out firing hits—”Barracuda,” “Heartless,” “What About Love,” Magic Man”—as if to remind us just how much Heart once ruled the radio dial and MTV. The six musicians put that mission on pause only to dig out an occasional deeper cut (“Dreamboat Annie,” Heaven”) or some covers (Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It,” Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle”), but mostly it was about the fun and familiar, from “Even It Up” to “Crazy on You.”
Two major takeaways: A Heart show is no marathon, and Ann can still sing. Toss out a three-Zeppelin-song encore, and the show clocked around an hour, plenty for me but not a ton from a Hall of Fame act charging $55-plus and playing sans opener. Still, I’m glad I bothered, if only to hear Ann Wilson wail, the way she did back in the day, before her hair spray got all over my TV screen.