Monday, April 8, 2013

Heart w/ Simon Townsend at Massey Hall, March 21, 2013

It was the first day of spring and what's not to like about a show at Massey Hall for what will hopefully be the start of an eventful 2013 summer concert season. Rock legends Heard were in town on their Frantic tour and Tuco was on hand to narrate.

The Wilson sisters have been writing tracks since the 70s and are to be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this month for their contributions. Their longevity and womanly awesomeness were readily apparent in the audience which consisted mostly of older couples interspersed with small gangs of younger women.

Instead of staring at his phone - the trademark of this generation - Tuco struck up a conversation with the person next to him. He had been to a number of Heart concerts and had started his concert-going experiences in St. Louis in 1973 where he saw Led Zeppelin. Tuco was amazed and peppered him with more questions. This ended awkwardly as Tuco ran out of common ground and could not avoid throwing in something his parents had told him, highlighting a significant age gap and ending the conversation.

Fortunately, everything was running on time and the opener, Simon Townsend (brother of Pete Townsend who had played the ACC with The Who late last year) ran out and worked some guitar magic. Massey is a pretty good venue for an acoustic or moderately electric set and this is exactly what Townsend delivered. I'm curious which kind of set each musician prefers; Townsend seemed comfortable with either format. Quite a few guitars were used during the performance and a mandolin was brought out for the set closer. Best track was the one about World War II.

Brief break. Guy comes around charging $9 for a $2 beer. I still tip him for some reason.

Heart takes the stage and kick it off with that great riff from Barracuda. Besides Ann and Nancy, Heart feature a lead guitarist, drummer, bassist and a keyboardist. Everyone gives the band a warm reception. The band takes its time with the first few tracks. What About Love has the young ladies standing up and yelling about their need for Love (capital L). Pretty good performance so far and the lead guitarist works a few licks to Tuco's applause.

Ann pauses to address the crowd to rapturous applause. Tuco notes the appearance of Canadian and American flags in the backdrop. The next few songs spill out with a pretty cool version of Magic Man. Nancy Wilson still looks like a dream playing her guitar. I think she was the first woman I remember playing rock guitar - for that I am truly grateful.

The next few sounds fly by and then out come the acoustic guitars for the second half of the set. Dreamboat Annie and Dog and Butterfly are introduced with Ann giving a little background on each song and their impact on their early lives.

Next up are two 80s ballads played acoustically: These Dreams and Alone. To be honest, I was hoping for a return to the electric guitar, but it didn't happen.

Rounding out the set was Dear Old America which got some claps despite a somewhat anti-war machine vibe from those in attendance. Following this was brief bit of Nancy's magic as my ears seemed to pick out first Stairway To Heaven and Somewhere Over the Rainbow in her interlude into Crazy on You. Coolest moment in the concert for me. Crazy on You was one of the best performances of the night with a return to the rawer electrified sound.

Another brief pause and Heart came back on stage for the encore. Simon Townsend also returned to join the band onstage for the encore as they launched into Black Dog and then Love, Reign O'er Me. Ended strong!


What About Love

59 Crunch
Magic Man
Kick It Out
Even It Up
Dreamboat Annie
Dog and Butterfly
These Dreams
Dear Old America
Interlude (Guitar interpolating Stairway to Heaven and Somewhere Over the Rainbow?)
Crazy On You

Black Dog
Love, Reign O'er Me

Best moments:

Crazy On You
Magic Man
What About Love
Love, Reign O'er Me

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