Heart – Fanatic Live From Caesar’s Coliseum (CD/DVD Review)
For nearly 4 decades, the Wilson sisters have remained the most dynamic duo in rock. As Heart, with Ann’s lead vocals and Nancy on guitar as the core, the group has fifteen albums and over 35 million units sold. At last year’s Kennedy Center honors program the ladies brought a tear to the eye of grizzled rock screecher Robert Plant when Heart did a version of “Stairway To Heaven” that breathed new life into the old rock chestnut and earned them a standing ovation from the Zeps as well.
This combination CD/DVD set on Frontiers records recorded in 2012 at Caesar’s Coliseum in Windsor, Ontario, captures Heart sounding as good as they ever have. Ann’s voice is better than ever, her sexy, husky, octave- spanning ululations leaping from a whisper to a scream in an instant. She’s like fine brandy, velvety smooth, but with a mellow burn.
The material is a mix of old and new. “Fanatic” is a new one, but still locked firmly in the classic Heart mode, bombastic and feral. “Mashallah” is a love song, Ann says, but its more about a timeless eternal connection that lasts beyond the grave than mushy earthy affairs of the heart.
In a trailer promoting the concert, Ann says that “Alone” is the biggest response hey get all night: “people can all identify with the little lonely child inside themselves.” But obviously this audience’s response to the big hits is as enthusiastic as the fans who have supported them over the years.
The Wilsons don’t back off any on the presentation of their hits. No medleys here- the oldies are displayed full blown with the original fire and thunder intact. “Magic Man,” a 24-year-old’s gushing declaration to her mama of her first love still resonates today, as does “Crazy on You,” with the lines “With the bombs and the devils ….Wild man’s world is crying in pain/What you gonna do when everybody’s insane.”
“Barracuda” is still as sinister as ever, Ann’s vocals cutting through the waves over the thudding Jaws backdrop as Nancy’s guitar slashes bloody chunks out of the melody.
It’s a stunning performance both aurally and visually, the old and new mixing seamlessly. The only thing better would be tickets to see them next time they come around.
By Grant Britt