Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Heart brought their highly acclaimed Heartbreakers Tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis Saturday night. Part of the allure to this tour is their acclaimed extended tribute to Led Zeppelin.
Back in the 1970’s Heart routinely performed multiple Led Zeppelin songs as part of their set and garnered solid reviews. So when the Kennedy Center Honors paid tribute to Led Zeppelin last year the natural choice to perform those songs again was Heart. It was such a hit, even with younger fans, that setting up a tribute tour seemed the logical way to go.
The icing on the cake was getting Jason Bonham, son of the late legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham to bring his Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience to open the shows and perform an extended encore with the band. This became the Heartbreakers Tour, and with it one of the top musical experiences of the year.
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience kicked the night off with a solid set that included Led Zeppelin classics like “Rock and Roll”, “Black Dog” and “Whole Lotta Love” with such style, vibrancy and perfection that surely Bonzo was smiling with pride somewhere.
They also performed deeper tracks like “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” and “Houses of the Holy”, but the best song of the set came from a solid rendition of “When the Levee Breaks”.
Heart began their set with the rousing riffs of “Barracuda” and “Heartless” bathed deep in ever changing hues of red, green and blue lighting, adding to the deep texture of the songs.
While this tour has been hyped for the Led Zeppelin tribute, make no mistake it is still a Heart concert. And, in St. Louis at least, they dug deep into their extensive catalogue to pull out songs like the wispy “Dog and Butterfly” and the trippy “Mistral Wind”, both from the 1978 LP “Dog and Butterfly”.
They did perform “Dear Old America” from their latest CD “Fanatic”, but the vast majority was reminiscing with older hits, that unless you didn’t appreciate great music chances were you were rocking out or singing along with the power ballad “These Dreams” or “Alone”.
Whichever the case may be Lead singer Ann Wilson scored big, as usual, with her amazing vocals (better than most other 63 year old vocalists out there).
Guitarist Nancy Wilson was stellar on the axe and when she sang lead for “These Dreams” and the surprising cover of Elton john’s “I Need You to Turn To” the crowd ate it up.
Sure there were some songs that the band did not perform ( ie. “Straight On”, “Tell It Like It Is”, “Never” and “All I Want to Do Is Make Love To You” among others) but with a catalogue so deep as they have some items have to be cut, especially when you are devoting 40 minutes to covering Led Zeppelin songs.
And what a great choice that has been, and what a great treat it was for the fans.
Ann and Nancy came out alone at the front of the stage extension with only a couple spotlights in the front and a handful of blue/green lights in the back to perform an amazing version of “Battle of Evermore”. Ann and Nancy complimented each other perfectly for this song and amazed the crowd.
Jason Bonham then joined Heart for flawless renditions of “Misty Mountain Hop”, “The Rain Song” and “Immigrant Song”.
Just when you think it couldn’t get any better they sailed into “Kashmir”, which if the show ended there would have been the highlight of the night. But no tribute would be complete without the iconic “Stairway To Heaven”. To say they nailed it would be a complete understatement.
With technically perfect pitch and the band sounding so tight diamonds could have been produced it was a stunning display in both sight and sound. Easily, this was one of the top concert moments of the year. Seeing it live one gets a better understanding why Robert Plant shed tears of joy when Heart performed it at the Kennedy Center Honors last December.
With a performance like the one on Saturday it is a wonder why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame waited until this year to induct Heart.
3) What About Love
4) Magic Man
5) Kick it Out
6) Mistral Wind
7) Even It Up
8) Dog and Butterfly
9) I Need You to Turn To (Elton John cover)
10) These Dreams
12) Dear Old America
13) Crazy On You
14) Battle of Evermore (Led Zeppelin cover)
15) Misty Mountain Hop (LZ cover w/ Jason Bonham)
16) The Rain Song (LZ cover w/ Jason Bonham)
17) Immigrant Song (LZ cover w/ Jason Bonham)
18) Kashmir (LZ cover w/ Jason Bonham)
19) Stairway to Heaven (LZ cover w/ Jason Bonham)