I approach tonight’s gig with a bit of trepidation given the recent comments on the current Heart tour to do with setlist and length of the gig. It has been 28 years since I saw Heart on the “Bad Animals” tour. I went to both nights at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1988. I need not have worried, but before we get to that we have long time British rock favourites FM opening tonight’s proceedings.
As the drums and guitar riffs herald “Digging up the Dirt”, the first track from last year’s well-received album Heroes and Villains, the band settle into what is a fantastic but short 35 minute set. Up next “I Belong to the Night” from 1986’s Indiscreet with Steve Overland and the band playing up to a packed Royal Concert Hall with a lot of obvious FM fans in the audience. They definitely had a couple of avid female fans singing and dancing next to myself in the stalls.
This is a perfect act to open up for Heart and it shows as the band rip through “Life is a Highway” and “Let Love Be the Leader” before we find “That Girl” with it’s homage to the Journey sound, a fantastic track that again had elements of the crowd singing along with Steve and Jim Kirkpatrick complimenting each other on guitar.
A bit of “Bad Luck” takes us back to 1989’s Tough It Out album and you can see why this band have lasted so long. Every song is quality and you do wonder why they never made that leap to being an arena sized band. FM end a top quality but short set with “Burning my Heart Down”, again from Tough It Out. All credit to Heart for getting this brilliant band on before them to warm the audience up and they deserved the standing ovation at the end.
- Digging up the Dirt
- I Belong to the Night
- Life is a Highway
- Let Love be the Leader
- That Girl
- Bad Luck
- Burning my Heart Down
Now to the main course, a band I was not sure I would see again live on these shores. It’s been twelve years since their last tour in the UK and they are back in Scotland no less. All negative press comments are banished as the intro to “Wild Child” from 1990’s Brigade kicks in. As Ann opens her mouth to sing I take a breath and let it out in relief as those golden tones pour out and we all drift into the breathtaking music that is Heart.
We head back to 1976 now and “Magic Man” from their debut album Dreamboat Annie. This is probably one of the first Heart tracks I ever heard back in my youth and it has no less an impact on me tonight. With Ann’s glorious vocals and watching sister Nancy bouncing about throwing all the guitar poses that belie her age, trading licks with Craig Bartock it’s like being back in the 80’s.
A stripped down but nevertheless powerful version of “What About Love” up next from 1985’s Heart album that helped relaunch their slowed down career and heralded the big hair version of the band.
Not only are we getting the tour with a rare Scottish date but in a few days we get the new album Beautiful Broken. First up from the album we get the title track, the recorded version of which features guest vocals from none other than Metallica’s James Hetfield. The song was originally released as a bonus track on the Fanatic album/ It’s a short rocker of a track and on the album James does a nice job – it shows how much the band are thought of getting the likes of a heavy singer like James to help with vocals.
We head back to 1980 with Ann explaining how certain female fan mail inspired the next track, Bebe Le Strange, sounding so fresh and alive tonight. A dip into The Lovemongers’ Whirlygig album with a simply stunning version of “Sand”, before heading back into hair territory with “These Dreams” which gets a huge roar once the intro keyboards kick in. You can see the video in your head as the vocals soar about the hall.
Up next, another from the upcoming new album and one of the highlights for me tonight in “Two”, quite simply breathtaking with Nancy’s stunning vocals literally giving me goosebumps. You really need to hear this live to appreciate how good the girls voices still are. I am not sure I see it as a classic track but its omission on the Manchester show raised a few eyebrows and so “Alone” is back in the setlist tonight in a simply stunning stripped back version with the girls in fine voice along with Chris Joyner on keyboards.
We head into another favourite of mine tonight, just a fantastic version of “Straight On” which even had me singing along with a huge grin on my face. Another from the upcoming album in the form of “Sweet Darlin’” (originally on Bebe Le Strange). Quite simply stunning, I cannot stress enough how good the band are tonight.
We head back to Little Queen for the rocking “Kick it Out” – we are getting it all tonight: rockers, ballads, stunning individual vocals… you name it. The big drum sound from Ben Smith introduces another new stunner in the form of “I Jump”, before we head into the acoustic intro by Nancy that can only herald the simply fantastic “Crazy on You”, this in turn quickly followed by guitar riffs that can only mean Barracuda. A simply stunning double barrelled end to glorious main set.
A few minutes go by with the loud shouting and stamping of feet as the crowd want the band back on stage for the encore. After the usual delay, they duly obliged and launch into a three-track Led Zeppelin finale with “Immigrant Song”, “No Quarter” and end with “Misty Mountain Hop”. This is what has been causing a slight concern given the bands huge back catalogue. Anyone that follows Heart knows the sisters are huge Zeppelin fans and have always had a Zeppelin track of some description in their setlist. I have to say given the performance tonight I can forgive their indulgence to their heroes and given their history I guess the band can play what they want – the Glasgow crowd did not seem to mind, given the smiles and comments afterwards.
I was sceptical as to what I would see tonight but I needn’t have worried. Heart and the Wilson sisters are back with a bang. A stunning new album and the fans certainly have snapped up the tickets for this tour. We can only hope they come back soon given the interest in this tour.
- Wild Child
- Magic Man
- What About Love
- Beautiful Broken
- Bebe Le Strange
- These Dreams
- Straight on
- Sweet Darling
- Kick it out
- I Jump
- Crazy on You
- Immigrant Song
- No Quarter
- Misty Mountain Hop
All photos by Gary Cooper.