While most music fans breathed a sigh of relief when the year finally ended, Heart decided to jubilate with a live DVD celebrating a career highlight. For the female-fronted band from Seattle who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013, it was their first-ever show at one of London’s most hallowed venues and it is captured nicely on Heart: Live At The Royal Albert Hall With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
If this goodie didn’t end up in your Christmas stocking, it’s time to put those gift cards to use. It comes in a variety of packages featuring DVD only or with CDs and Blu-rays and features classic hits alongside newer songs, which in the case with Heart, those can be just as good, proving creativity doesn’t always end when you turn twenty-nine.
The Wilson sisters, Ann on vocals and Nancy on guitar, released their first album in 1976. “They were just a club band and I was a studio musician who was working in the studio where they were working,” guitar player Howard Leese told Glide in a 2013 interview about the making of Dreamboat Annie. “They weren’t trying to make a hit album, they were just trying to make an album. They were excited they were actually in a big studio making a real album. No one had any dreams of selling four million copies and it being a big influential record. We just wanted to make a good record.”
From that record came the iconic songs “Crazy On You,” the title track and “Magic Man,” which they lead off with, rocking out before bringing the orchestra onstage. And this is where Heart really has a chance to shine and their strengths are accentuated with the presence of an orchestra behind them. “Dreamboat Annie,” with Ann on flute and Nancy on acoustic guitar, soars as does “Alone,” a #1 hit from 1987.
“Two,” later in the set from their 2016 Beautiful Broken album and with Nancy on lead vocals is the perfect platform to showcase the beauty of the sister’s harmonies and it makes you yearn for more of this.
The significance of playing such an honored place as the Royal Albert Hall is physically apparent on Ann’s face as she looks around with an expression of pure awe. It also doesn’t hurt that their first appearance here is filled to the rafters with fans who have probably known most of these songs word-for-word for most of their lives. Although Ann’s range doesn’t always reach the higher registers she is known for, she has readjusted, saving her biggest belting for the most important moments without losing the emotions behind them. And although Nancy’s vocals have sweetened with age, her guitar playing remains an unsung hero to their live shows and she’s still kicking up her heels and rocking. The band’s longtime guitar player Craig Bartock is given many moments to show his talents and if you’ve seen the band perform in person you will know what a hidden treasure he truly is.
Seventeen songs in all, Heart fans will be satisfied with having this live visual collection beside all the others. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes footage from Heart’s preparations for their Hall show and the sisters talking primarily about that event.
“We were just young kids trying to do something good,” remembered Leese. Forty years later, Ann and Nancy are still doing something good.