Heart – Alive in Seattle (2003; 2017 reissue)

In 1995, Ann and Nancy Wilson decided to take a hiatus from Heart to focus on solo albums and tours as well as the Lovemongers, a side project. The two were finally ready to officially reunite in 2002, hitting the road with a new lineup including Scott Olson, Ben Smith, Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez, and keyboardist Tom Kellock.

At the same time, the Wilsons were recording what would become Heart’s comeback album, 2004’s Jupiter’s Darling. The group provided sneak previews of their updated sound to fans during their Summer of Love tour, the final night of which is captured on the newly reissued Heart DVD Alive in Seattle. Fueled by their hometown crowd, Ann and Nancy Wilson display their musical range, variety of hits, and the reason why they are considered the foremost interpreters of Led Zeppelin.

Heart storms the stage with a raucous version of “Crazy on You,” with a barefooted Ann demonstrating her still-powerful vocals. Nancy executes some high kicks while playing rhythm guitar, egged on by the enthusiastic crowd. Heart next launches into “Sister Wild Rose,” a track with a distinct 1970s rock vibe reminiscent of Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise.”

Their debt to Led Zeppelin is huge, and they show it with “The Witch,” a track that allows Ann to showcase her raspy vocals and storytelling ability. “Now you know the score / Because I set you straight,” she snarls. The duo treats fans to deeper cuts from Dog and Butterfly such as “Straight On” (during which Ann displays some impressive dance moves) and a lovely rendition of “Mistral Wind.” The latter song features Nancy Wilson playing acoustic guitar, tapping strings and proving why she remains an underrated guitarist.

Several emotional moments occur during Heart’s Seattle concert, including a moving cover of Elton John’s “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.” Dedicating the song to New York City, the sisters transform the lyrics into an ode to a place recently devastated by unimaginable tragedy. The Wilsons play few songs from their mid-1980s comeback, but they do include a powerfully stripped-down version of the power ballad “Alone.” Ann Wilson’s searing vocals, accompanied by Nancy’s acoustic guitar and a keyboardist, lend additional weight to the 1980s track, rendering it timeless.

Understanding that a large portion of their audience became fans during the 1970s, Heart cheerfully plays old chestnuts such as “Magic Man” and “Barracuda,” but they also pay tribute to Led Zeppelin through covers of “Battle of Evermore” and “Black Dog.” Only the bravest artists can tackle such iconic tracks convincingly, and Ann and Nancy Wilson accomplish the feat with apparent ease. Ann’s lead vocals on “Black Dog” provide a lesson in how to passionately sing pure rock and blues.

By the time they close the show with their signature track “Dreamboat Annie,” Heart has shown the audience their enduring influence and one element that sets the Wilsons apart from other rock bands: their sheer diversity. Rock, blues, and folk are abundant in their songs, allowing Heart to pay homage to their idols while staying relevant. Alive in Seattle provides a snapshot of a group on the verge of a comeback, rocking as hard as performers half their age.

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kit O'Toole