You Gotta Have HEART
By Dan MacIntosh
Performing live in support of the latest album is a big chunk of the usual rock band business model. However, when Heart arrives at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, it won’t be there promoting any particular piece of product. “We’re playing a concert,” vocalist Ann Wilson states simply. “We’re just being ourselves.”
If there’s any act that need only be itself, it’s Heart. After all, this dual sibling led band from Seattle, Washington, which also prominently features Nancy Wilson’s guitar pyrotechnics, was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and was listed at number 57 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Furthermore, classic rock radio would be little more than a dull, male-dominated wasteland without Ann’s belting vocals on such playlist staples as “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You,” “Kick It Out” and “Barracuda.” Heart proved beyond any doubt that it could rock hard with these aforementioned songs (and many others) back in the ‘70s, and then revealed its gentler side with smash ballads like “These Dreams” and “Alone” in the ‘80s. Therefore, just being themselves is clearly all we can ask.
Even so, Heart—which is paid a great compliment whenever critics referred it as the female equivalent to Led Zeppelin—will be getting “the Led out,” so to speak, when it hits town in August. “We’re doing a finale collaborating with Jason Bonham,” Wilson explains. Bonham is the son of famed late Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham, and has played with his father’s band many times, including the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert at The 02 Arena in London in 2007. “So it’s an interesting, Led Zeppelin-tinged show,” Wilson continues. “People are really loving it.”
Doing these Led Zeppelin songs hearkens back a little bit to Heart’s early days; Heart proved then it could rock just as hard as those English boys, and it also looked a whole lot cuter. However, Wilson doesn’t see this Led Zep show segment as any sort of nostalgic, backwards-looking side trip.
“No, it’s just fun,” Wilson responds. “It’s not like we’re trying to make a statement of coming full circle back to Led Zeppelin. We’re just having an awful lot of fun with it and people in the audiences that are coming to see it, are having fun too.”
When it comes to Heart’s own material, Wilson never gets tired of singing “Crazy on You,” which is, perhaps, its best song. “That is still really physically challenging,” Wilson notes. “It always was. It still is. And you know I enjoy a good physical challenge.”
Sure, Wilson can point to countless music business accomplishments, such as playing the Kennedy Center and getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nevertheless, she is prouder of Heart’s much deeper and more rewarding overall career determination.
“The thing that I’m the most proud of, I think, is the fact that Nancy and I are forever rebellious people who are just gonna do what we wanna do, in terms of our music,” she explains. “We’re never gonna listen to the person that says, ‘Okay, write another ‘Barracuda,’ or ‘You should be doing this.’ We just don’t listen to that kind of stuff. We have the bit in our teeth, so to speak, artistically. That’s just how we are, and how we’re gonna stay. I think that’s really important. You have to be true to yourself, artistically. It’s the most important thing. It’s more important than money. It’s more important than accomplishments or achievements you can make in the industry.”
Wilson recently tracked a duet with Aaron Neville, an experience she described as scratching a big item off her bucket list. But when it comes to that imaginary bucket list, she doesn’t have many grandiose items left on it. Instead, she’s much more focused on just being the best performer she can be.
“I don’t have a very long bucket list,” she answers. “I’ve done so many bucket things in my life already. I’d like to keep on gigging. I’d like to keep on getting that feeling you get singing that’s almost spiritual when you go out there and you hit it just right. That’s my bucket thing, really. It doesn’t happen every night. But when it does, it’s worth everything.“
Witnessing this Heart date may amount to far more than just another rock concert. Who knows? You may end up participating a memorable Ann Wilson bucket list moment.
Heart w/Jason Bonham at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84-245 Indio Springs Pkwy., Indio. (760) 342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com. Sat, Aug. 24. 8pm. Tickets $49-$89.