Behold, the monsters of Northwest rock! First Seattle rock kings Pearl Jam took over KeyArena for two epic nights, Monday and Tuesday. Tonight, Alice in Chains will unleash material from comeback album “Black Gives Way to Blue” to a full house at Seattle’s Moore Theatre.
But last night it was all about Heart, the underrated queenpins of Seattle rock. (So why didn’t guitar goddess Nancy Wilson make Rolling Stone’s controversial greatest guitarists list again? That chica has served up some mighty tasty riffs over the years. But at least Guitar Hero is finally giving her props. But I digress.)
Actually, it was kind of a two-for-one treat for Northwest rock fans who packed the Puyallup Fair & Events Center grandstand Wednesday night since Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez – formerly part of Heart’s touring band – made a cameo during “Straight On For You” early on. Call it the cherry on top of your Heart’s rock ‘n roll sunday.
Ann and Nancy Wilson were also supported by a tight backing band which included the pig-tailed Debbie Shair on keyboards, guitarist Craig Bartock, bassist Ric Markmann and drummer Ben Smith. And they rocked right out of the gate with their briefly contentious anthem “Barracuda.” Then a palpably thrilled Nancy – whose booming vocals sounded as vibrant as ever – properly addressed the capacity crowd.
“It’s so good to be back,” she said. “To show you how good it is, we’re gonna ask you to sing right off the bat.” This being the cue to join in on a rousing romp through “Never,” from her band’s self-titled album from 1985.
The set was a well-paced parade through through the decades, from “Back to Avalon” – “like a secret, bonus, mystery track from the ‘90s,” quips Nancy – to the big finale, “Magic Man,” the rowdy cut that kicks off classic 1976 arena rock LP “Dreamboat Annie.”
Some set staples were missing, like that album’s title cut and “Dog and Butterfly.” But a dramatic, affecting delivery of “Mistral Wind” more than made up for anything that was missing, as far as I was concerned. (Was that on the set list when they opened for Journey last year? Can’t recall. If it wasn’t it should have been.)
And what’s a Heart set without a couple of nods to Zeppelin. Mid-set addition “Immigrant Song” had a slightly funked up arrangement. And the encore opening “Going to California” was also well-received, especially with Ann changing the destination of their “big jet plane” to “Seattle.” The sisters Wilson even pulled a Pearl Jam, taking a stab at the Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” before taking a pre-encore bow with “Crazy On You.”
The full set list is here in case you missed it.