Review of Heart: Live
Label
KOCH Vision
Heart: Live

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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hey’ve come a long way since their days as performers of Diane Warren power ballads – and even further from their time as rock’s reigning (okay, damn near only) female-fronted hard rock band. These days, Heart – otherwise known as Ann and Nancy Wilson – are greatest hits-shilling road dogs who have released fewer studio albums in the last decade than they have live DVDs. (“Heart: Live” tips the scales three to one in favor of the latter.)

In other words, unless you happened to be in the audience, this show – recorded in 2005, while Ann and Nancy were still out supporting their last studio album, 2004’s Jupiter’s Darling – isn’t anything you need to own; in fact, it’s an early contender for “least essential title of the year” status. But if you do somehow end up owning a copy of “Heart: Live,” don’t fret – the Wilsons, particularly Ann, haven’t lost a single step.

Okay, so they’re no longer the same sisters who writhed around in corsets in the ‘80s, but even if Ann’s physical assets have suffered the slings of middle age, her voice remains a peerless instrument – she prowls the stage throughout this 23-song set, unleashing line after line of note-perfect howling, and makes it look easy. Nancy’s no less talented, but even at their hardest-rocking, Heart was never a Van Halen-type guitar showcase; this band’s biggest asset has always been its lead singer’s voice. If there’s a real reason to watch this show, it’s to see Ann knock each song out of the park as casually as Mickey Mantle swinging at an underhand pitch from a fourth-grade girl. There’s no drama in it, but the spectacle is enough.

If longtime fans have a real beef with the DVD, it’ll be the setlist, which concentrates heavily on Jupiter’s Darling and adds some fun but unnecessary covers (including three Zeppelin tunes, including “Black Dog,” thus proving once again that Ann Wilson can out-Plant Robert Plant – just in case anyone still wanted to know). They do get points for avoiding “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You,” and reframing ‘80s schlock classics “These Dreams” and “Alone” as mandolin-laced torch ballads, but it’s less of a definitive summation of the group’s live strengths than it is a perfectly pleasant glimpse of an act in the late autumn of its career. Especially considering KOCH’s absurd $25 price tag and skimpy extras (an eight-minute interview with the Wilsons is all you get), even hardcore Heart fans can probably skip this one without feeling like they’ve missed too much.

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