Heart in the Heartland

First Council Hotel and Casino
Newkirk, Oklahoma
October 14, 2016

By Jeb Wright

Set List
Wild Child | Kick It Out | What About Love | Even It Up | I Jump | These Dreams | Two | Straight On | Sweet Darlin’ | Alone | Crazy On You | Barracuda

No Quarter | Immigrant Song | Stairway to Heaven

Heart has been on the road with Joan Jett and Cheap Trick as the three groups have been celebrating recent inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Now, on this fall evening, Heart stopped in Newkirk for a nice, but short set of music at a casino in the middle of nowhere. 

The band suffered sonically right out of the gate, as the sound was truly awful. “Wild Child” was almost unrecognizable as Ann could not hardly be heard and the little bit of lead vocal that did leak out was drowned out by the backing vocals.  The sound issues continued into the next song, “Kick It Out.”  Thankfully by the third song, a stripped down version of “What About Love,” things started to come together.  It is a shame when this happens as the band members, who are just doing their job, fall victim to the people who did not do their job… the sound crew.  There was no opening act, so by not having the sound ready to go was a huge mistake.

The venue was sold out and the crowd seemed to be enjoying things despite the opening issues.  It should be noted that “Magic Man” was left out of the set.  This track was performed the evening before so the band has been playing the song on tour.  Sadly, it was much missed as it is one of the best Heart songs ever. There were plenty of tunes that could have been deleted from this ballad-heavy set where one of Heart’s all-time greatest rock tunes could have been easily inserted… but tonight it was not to be.  

That said, the audience did get two new songs in “I Jump” and “Two” both acceptable new additions to the show, as well as the big ballads, “These Dreams” and “Alone.”  The old school fans that missed “Magic Man” were appeased with “Even It Up” and “Straight On” and the entire audience went nuts over main set closers “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda.” 

The band looked and performed great.  I am not being PC when I say Nancy Wilson is still physically beautiful in her early sixties and her outfit including black leggings was sexy as hell! Ann has slimmed down and looks wonderful.  However, the ladies would be disappointed in me that I talked about their looks over the music, so I do apologize.  They played outstanding and sounded great as well. Nancy is always solid and seems to be the musical leader of the band onstage.  Ann is one of the best rock vocalists of all time.  Her voice is powerful yet emotional.  She has a talent that is beyond words.  She was, and is today, one of the best ever… there is no other way to describe her performance. 

After the main set, the band returned for an encore and blasted out three tunes penned by Led Zeppelin.  They played these iconic tracks like their lives depended on it.  “No Quarter” was masterfully done.  “Immigrant Song” proved Ann could fill Robert Plant’s role in the band with ease should they decide to reunite without him.  “Stairway to Heaven,” always a ballsy number to whip out live, went down amazingly well.   The tribute to Zep was a great way to end the show.

Some grumbled that too many slow tunes were played… and there were a lot.  Others grumbled that instead of Led Zep they could have fit other classics like “Heartless” or “Looks That Kill” from their extensive catalog… but at the end of the day, Heart gave a quick glance at their entire career, from the 1970s harder rocking days, to the pop success of the ‘80s right up to the modern day with the pair of new songs.  The Led Zep tribute was icing on the cake.

I will end this concert report by stating the entire band with Craig Bartock on guitar, Chris Joyner on keys and Dan Rothchild on bass is very tight, with longtime drummer Ben Smith being very noticeable and expressive.  Nancy steers the dreamboat like an experienced captain and Ann… oh, what can one say about Ann Wilson?  DAMN!  She delivers big time, all of the time.  She carries the role of front woman and rock star and musician extremely well.  She is, for me, the reason I keep going to see this band. 

Heart played with heart… I just wish they would have played longer and rocked harder!

Keep up to date with the band at http://www.heart-music.com/