By Chris Shapiro
A woman sits on a split rail fence smoking one last cigarette before entering the concert arena. There’s a cool summer breeze blowing. It’s the kind that precedes a summer storm. The sky above threatens but the heavens don’t pour.
Venue employees are still setting up their food and beverage stands after the gates open at 6:30pm. Concern goers wander about the venue. For some, this is their first Heart concert. For others, it’s another feather in their Heart cap.
Seasoned Heart veterans are marked by the concert shirts they wear. They wear them as badges of honor. It’s a form of respect and a common bond between those who wear them and the band they’ve come to see.
There’s still hours before the Heart sisters take the stage at First Niagara Pavilion on this July night. And there isn’t much to pass the time.
Contemplations on the weather are made. Fans line up at the T-shirt booth to purchase their badges. Photographers gather at a wishing well where they cast their wish of capturing a magical moment from the performance.
The hours before a concert can only be described best with the term lateral drift. There’s no forward movement and nothing seems connected. Thousands of audience members stand together but they’re not connected. Even the instruments sitting together on the stage are lifeless and isolated. Each entity of the concert is like an individual island drifting on the sea of time with no change of status.
Tension builds as the hands on the clock invade the final moments before show time. Hearts race in both fan and performer. Lateral drift is about to switch.
Suddenly, there’s a spark, an infusion of energy that shifts the lateral drift into an accelerating forward direction. The individual islands merge to form a super continent. The audience members stand as one with the music they’ve come to celebrate.
The spark of energy comes from Nancy Wilson’s guitar pick making contact with the strings on her guitar and the rift to Barracuda storms out into the summer night.
The notes of the song serve as an ionic bond bringing all the entities of the concert together on that super continent where the living magic of music is shared.
A Heart concert isn’t just a concert. It’s a moment of time that’s shared between all those in attendance. It’s a time where souls are rejuvenated with hope. Music is the food of the soul and when Heart plays it’s given out in abundance.
The electrical charge this band creates live resonates deep in the soul because it’s from the soul that Heart plays.
This band and these women didn’t become famous because they won a television talent show covering other artist’s songs. Heart is Heart because of hard work, dedication and passion all of which are evident when they play.
Stage lights project shadows of the musicians onto the roof of the pavilion. Those shadows symbolize the thirty plus years Heart has been spreading its passion of music with the world. This band has history and a life of its own. The larger than life shadows are the testament to that.
Ann’s voice is rich with the experiences of life. When she hits those atmospheric notes in “Alone” she’s drawing off experience. When Nancy takes over the reins of lead vocals on the mystical “These Dreams” she sings with true and honest emotion. These are the elements that give life to their songs.
The greatest penned song is nothing without a musician to give it life with his or her experiences and emotions.
After Barracuda, Heart keeps the concert adrenalized with “Magic Man,” “Even It Up” and the beautifully performed “Dog and Butterfly.”
“Dog and Butterfly,” as described by Ann, is a song about the chase for that inner light that will bring satisfaction to the soul. It’s a quest every human ventures on and perhaps it’s why the song is so beloved among Heart fans.
The hard rocker, “Dear Old America,” off Heart’s latest album release, Fanatic, is performed to standing applause.
Other songs on the set list include, “Heartless,” “What About Love,” “Mistral Wind,” and “Crazy On You” with Nancy performing her signature guitar introduction to the song.
The next chapter of the concert unfolds as Heart returns to the stage for an encore, which serves also as a tribute, with members from their opening act, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience joining them.
Bonham, son of the late John Bonham, and other members from his band take the stage to perform several of the greatest songs ever written by Rock n’ Roll’s most recognizable band, Led Zeppelin.
There is no band more qualified to perform a tribute to Led Zeppelin than Heart. Ann Wilson is arguable the only singer up to the challenge of lead vocals to these classics. “Stairway to Heaven” showcases her unbelievable talent and vocal abilities.
Heart is a must see band for those who have an inner hunger for music performed by passionate musicians. There is a difference between those who have and those who lack passion. The difference is Heart’s music will live on and be handed down for generations. While those musicians without the passion, well, their songs will only be handed down to the bottom of the charts once they fall from their peak position.
Heart has and always will live on.