Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart are the musical equivalent to a bottle of wine which just gets better with age. A prime example of that would be the band’s new tour entitled the Heartbreaker Tour. It made a stop in Raleigh, North Carolina on June 22. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience is on-board for this tour as the opening act as well as the special guest for the band’s encore.
Jason’s band definitely got the crowd out of their seats and energized as they their way through as energized set of Led Zeppelin hits ranging from “Whole Lotta Love” to “Babe, I’m Leaving You”. A short change-over took place and Heart soon took to the stage, not losing the momentum already provided to them by Bonham and his crew. You know it’s going to be a special night when a band opens with one of their biggest hits and Heart did just that with a blistering version of “Barracuda”. That definitely got the rest of the crowd out of their seats.
The hits just seemed to be endless as “Heartless” was next and followed by “What About Love” and then “Magic Man”. Nancy took over lead vocals on a beautiful cover of Elton John’s “I Need to Turn to You” as well as a mandolin flavored version of their number one hit “These Dreams”, which was stunning. It was also very nice to hear some newer music from their latest work of art Fanatic performed live. “Alone”, “Even It Up” and “Crazy For You” also made an appearance on this particular night as well. “Walkin’ Good” and “Dear Old America” were included in their set, with the latter providing one of the more powerful and moving points of the night for those who were paying close attention to its content.
The encore saw Jason Bonham and some of his band mates join Heart on stage for a Led Zeppelin tribute. To kick it off, Ann and Nancy came out to center stage and performed an acoustic version of “The Battle of Evermore” which set the bar for what this encore was going to be like. It was beautiful and powerful with their amazing voices accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a mandolin. The rest of the band joined them for the rest of the encore which included a kick-ass version of “Kashmir” as well as an outstanding version of “The Rain Song” which provoked even more goosebumps.
The night closed with what I was hoping would be the closer, which I am sure wasn’t too much of a surprise for many who were there. Nancy plucked the opening chords of “Stairway to Heaven” and you could sense this was going to be something pretty amazing. I am sure lots of us have seen the clip of the Kennedy Center Honors where Heart came out to salute Led Zeppelin and performed one of the most amazing versions of “Stairway to Heaven” that many have ever witnessed. Would they be able to recreate that magic again? Well, they did bring a choir out on stage with them in Raleigh and although Zeppelin wasn’t there, it was as close as you could come to recreating that magic at the Kennedy Center.
It was an amazing night of music and a very powerful performance by all who were involved. For me, it was somewhat spiritual for me as you don’t go to a concert too many times and have church break out. Ann Wilson’s voice has not faltered a bit over the years and it almost sounds stronger than ever. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I have ever seen the sisters look or sound better. They seem to be so happy and alive on-stage as well. I have seen Heart quite a few times throughout their career and this particular stormy night in Raleigh, NC was hands down the best performance that I have ever by them. As a fan of music and great performers, I feel fortunate to have witnessed something so special that night.