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Heart - Artpark, Lewiston, NY - July 24, 2012

Photos/review by John Jeffrey
Lewiston, NY - Perhaps the most anticipated, and the highest attended concert of Artpark's "Tuesday in the Park" concert series was Heart, as the group brought their brand of gypsy rock to WNY on a perfect summer night for rock and roll.  While many of the previous shows in the concert series have been cited as being 'sold out,' the Heart concert should be referred to as 'sold out plus!,' as there were more people at Artpark this past Tuesday than the previous five weeks.
Building upon the already present anticipation of the crowd, Heart delayed the normal 8pm Artpark start time by approximately fifteen minutes, perhaps waiting for the sun to go down, to better set the mood to begin their 90 minute fanfare.  Opening the show with the song "Fanatic" (the title track from their yet to be released album coming out in October) was a dicey move, but if you have followed the Wilson sisters throughout their 40 year career, you know that they're not afraid of taking chances or breaking the rules.  In fact, while at previous shows this summer, the group had been only playing 2 tracks from the not yet released "Fanatic" CD.  But on Tuesday, Heart played 4 songs from the record, which again, was a rather bold move.  However, the new songs are very fan friendly, and segued much better with the classic material than the songs they performed from their last CD, "Red Velvet Car," on the previous tour with Def Leppard.  Another step up from their last outing with Def Leppard was the fact that they dropped all of the (Led Zeppelin) cover songs they were doing and only performed one cover song, which is the set list staple closer, "Love Reign 'Oer Me" (by The Who).  

While most so-called "reviewers" get caught up with talking about the obvious physical attributes or the sensuality and sexuality of the Wilson sisters, most of them fail to mention the fact that they are some of the utmost professional musicians on the touring circuit today.  From the minute they hit the stage, vocalist Ann Wilson was slyly signaling directions to the soundman, in order to make last minute adjustments, to perfect their onstage sound.  Seeing Ann signal for changes to be made with the level and EQ of the bass drum was a true testament to the perfectionist nature she still has for her craft, even after all these years.  Sister Nancy was equally as preoccupied with dialing in just the right stage sound, as she made several adjustments to her in ear monitor throughout the first few songs as well.  Ben Smith, who clearly graduated from the John Bonham school of drumming, has the ability to stay on top of the beat, or at times, play slightly off the beat, in order to create the syncopated groove prevalent in Heart classics like, "Magic Man."  Craig Bartok excels at the daunting task of playing lead guitar over Nancy's driving rhythm, playing all of the signature intricate parts you expect to hear in the Heart catalog.  Longtime keyboardist Debbie Shair and the newly appointed bass player, Dan Rothchild, round out the current lineup.  While the Wilson's 'backing band' is literally in the background (onstage), their consistent solid performances is what helps create Heart's near perfect sonic sensibility.

In addition to the new songs from "Fanatic" performed, they included new 'old songs' as well, as "Even It Up" and "Mistral Wind" were welcomed classics returning to the set list.  Heart seem to have come up with what may be the perfect set, as the diverse audience of young and old (with a higher than normal female populous) loved every minute of it, and there never seemed to be a lull in the crowd's energy.  Ann Wilson sensed the crowd's sincere adulation and commented how there was "love" and "power" in the air.  In return, the gathering at Artpark received a heartfelt performance from one of the best female musical duos of all time, and perhaps the best show they will see there all summer!  


Special Thanks to Maria Costello for making arrangements for us to cover this show.