concert reviews

Heart at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC, Friday 24 September 2004

While Heart may be best remembered for a few smash singles in the '80s, the six-piece band led by the Wilson sisters has lost no stamina over the decades. On Friday night at DAR Constitution Hall, the group propelled one song into the next with a driving energy that never faded.

For the entire 90-minute set, Nancy Wilson jumped, strutted and danced behind her guitar like a rock-and-roll ballerina. Her performance captivated the audience, which bounced and clapped along to every song and fell into some serious rock show stereotypes, from the air guitar played in front of the stage during "Kick It Out" to the single Zippo lighter waving in the balcony during the haunting "Alone."

Ann Wilson's extraordinary vocal range has not diminished a bit, as when she tackled such old hits as "Magic Man." Her superb control was Heart's most obvious strength, as she stretched and massaged the final chorus of "Crazy on You" and flawlessly alternated between a powerful howl and a husky whisper in "Make Me." But most of all, she inspired comparisons to Robert Plant as Heart ended the night with the one-two punch of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and "Misty Mountain Hop."

Those were not the only well-executed covers of the night. After a half-hour of solid originals like the catchy "Stupid," opening act and powerhouse guitarist Anne McCue topped off her set with an entrancing 10-minute version of Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun." Though McCue was long forgotten after Heart's phenomenal set, she was the perfect complement to the Wilson sisters on a night of tireless female-fronted rock.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 27 September 2004
.: Selected discography: Jupiters Darling (Heart, 2004); Roll (Anne McCue, 2004).