Heart @ The MAYO Performing Arts Center, Morristown, NJ 1/31/2013

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HeartI’m a Heart fan from way way back. I lost interest during their big hair MTV mid-80’s phase but have recently taken keen interest again in sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson and the band they presently front. I’m even a fan of their last two albums, Red Velvet Car and the new Fanatic (see my review here).

So it was with some anticipation I went to see Heart in N.J. last week.

Opening with a slightly shaky but still competent read of the title track to their 1980 album Bebe le Strange then into the rockin’ (and title track) of “Fanatic,” it was evident Heart was going to be tight. Debbie Shair’s keyboard began “Heartless,” a real treat from way back in Heart’s catalog. There was the obligatory read on the big 80’s hits; Nancy singing lead and playing mandolin on “These Dreams” and  “What About Love” but the trio of women alone managed a rendition of “Alone” (not a song I like at all) that was pretty great, with Ann Wilson showing off her amazing pipes.

Ann picked-up flute and Nancy acoustic for “Dreamboat Annie”(the title track of their very first album and the oldest song they tackled), Shair led a different arrangement on the ballad “Dog and Butterfly” (lots of title tracks this night), but for me the highlight was “Love Alive,” another older tune (from the band’s second album). Drummer Ben Smith and bassist Dan Rothchild were especially perfect on this one.

The regular set ended with hits “Crazy On You” into “Barracuda”  with the encore duo of “Magic Man” (showcasing guitarist Craig Bartock’s blistering control) into Zep’s “Black Dog.”

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