Heart is one of the most iconic bands in the world, finally being recognized as such by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, 2013. On that night they brought tears to Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant’s eyes with a stirring rendition of his epic “Stairway to Heaven”. At San Diego State University’s Open Air Amphitheater they brought tears to the eyes of nearly everyone with an equally stunning rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore”, which opened the encore of Zep tunes featuring none other than Jason Bonham (son of the late Zep drummer John Bonham) on drums. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience (read: tribute band) opened the show, playing a worthy set of Led Zeppelin favorites.
The show started off rather lackluster, though, as the songs seemed as if they were played like a 45 rpm record being played at 33 rpm. Their first song, “Barracuda” positively dragged. As they worked their way through “Heartless”, “What About Love”, and “Magic Man” things didn’t get much better. It wasn’t until “Kick It Out” that they started to get in a groove and the band’s energy began to match the crowd’s.
The highlight of Heart’s set for me was a new song I had not heard yet, “Dear Old America” from their 2012 release “Fanatic”, which sounds as good as anything they Wilson sisters have put out since “Dreamboat Annie”. Amazingly powerful, rocking song told from the point of view of their Marine Corps father returning home from war.
The encore brought Bonham’s band back on stage with Heart for a 6-song set of Led Zeppelin tunes, beginning with the aforementioned “Battle of Evermore” and finishing with the also mentioned “Stairway to Heaven”. By the end of the night, all thoughts of the slow start were forgiven.