On Tuesday night, legendary rock band Heart kicked off the second leg of their 2014 tour at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va. And I was there!
Before the show, my gal and I met several folks who had never heard of Heart. GASP! Process. Say what? No, seriously. And these peeps weren’t exactly April chickadees either. Let’s assume they’ve seen a show or two (granted, probably mostly in the easy listening arena)—still, they’ve circled blocks and clocks, bounced around and whatnot. I overheard one guy say, “I guess they’re a pretty big act. I mean, this show is sold out. I can’t actually name any of their songs, but maybe I’ll recognize something. They’re sisters, right?” As my ears began to hemorrhage, I thought to myself—how the hell is this possible? I reserved intervention here because I feared I would frighten and overwhelm this guy, possibly to the point of leaving, with six shots of explosively incoherent enthusiasm for this band. Even though, I would have been correct to chatter on about the stamina and pure awesomeness of this band. And I felt he, more than anyone, NEEDED to experience this concert without an infusion of biased praise. Later, my partner and I ended up schooling (at great length) one eager to study volunteer, but we served our high-end band fanatic in a pint of watered-down draft.
We had to do it. After all, we were pumped, primed, and prepared to see Heart. The HEART, man! Personally, seeing Heart in concert was a lifelong dream, and it finally culminated and concluded last night in what I can now sword tap and dub – the ULTIMATE-SUPREME concert experience.
The lights went down, Ann and Nancy Wilson stepped out, the first note of “Magic Man” hit our ears—and in a fury, as if the matchless force in Ann’s vocals summoned us, WE ROSE. Electric energy burst from the stage and ascended through the crowd, soaring well beyond the lawn. And in that resounding clap of clock hands, we were all rock legends.
For me, Heart has always bestowed the gift of magnitude by validating my emotions in song and by letting me sing through those bouts of shattering sentiments that rumble through all of our lives from time to time. If I created a soundtrack anthology for The Vaguely Significant Existence of Katherine Shook, a Heart song (paired with an Electric Light Orchestra tune) would mark every critical moment. Even when I allowed someone to ban them from my life, when that slight discrepancy broke, their music was there to glue and seal the cracks. Through every blunder, stumble, and triumph – their songs have been with me, which brings me to the most memorable vocal rendering of the night carried by Ann in “Alone.” Of course, I love this song (if I had to name a favorite, I’d say this one, perhaps fleetingly, but this one raises its hand and jumps to mind first), and I admit to having an intensely personal and enigmatic connection to “Alone.” I doubt I stand unaccompanied in this relationship. But my connection is still my own, and my story will remain unknown—alone. See what I did there.
I perused the crowd and could see a profusion of genuinely heartfelt links to Heart – I imagined an account of second chance lovers pressed by “every second of the night” in an almost painful physical hunger during “These Dreams,” and the tale of a lively dancer, eternally absorbed in song, neglecting her clothes and abandoning all material burdens in order to allow the sound to better reach her spirit. It was so incredible to witness, share, and be together with everyone in this moment. And the enchantment of the night never wavered as song after song conveyed the vigor of Heart and soul.
Take “Heaven” for example, a song the studio suits rejected because it didn’t sound like anything else on the radio. The band disregarded their flawed judgment and took “Heaven” straight to their fans. And bless them for believing in this song and delivering it directly to us, because it is a majestically astounding tune. As they played “Heaven,” I closed my eyes and felt a chill breeze pass over, and forgoing control, I permitted it to coast me away from mortal tides.
The concert ended with a turbulent blast from two signature Heart songs “Crazy on You” followed by “Barracuda”. The entire crowd leapt to their feet and fused with Nancy’s string riffing rave. Air guitars were plugged in, bodies shook wildly to the beat, and palms spread and towered above us as we thrust forward in one mighty-collective ripple of rhythm. Of course, after a sensible amount of mass shouting and applause, Heart offered an encore. And the night actually finished with an arrestingly strong presentation of three Led Zeppelin covers. Alas, perfection. And that’s it. In a music career spanning four decades—Ann, Nancy and crew still got it going on. And they’re always going to have it. For me, Heart dispatched a night to remember and allowed me to surrender to my concert self (A.K.A. my authentic self) for one magical night. Need the magic of Heart in your life? Check out my Essential Heart playlist on Spotify.