In the UK at least you could still be forgiven for thinking that Heart are that ‘big hair, big ballad’ band from the ’80s. This Blu-ray should go a long way to redressing that stereotype. Sure, Heart were that band a quarter of a century ago, but before and after their glossy, MTV ’80s commercial heyday they were quite a different prospect.
Filmed last March in hi-def at the state-of-the-art Sky Church at Seattle’s Experience Music Project, Night At... sees band leaders Ann and Nancy Wilson return to their hometown and tear through 18 songs – predominately culled from their extensive back catalogue, plus one cover and a handful of songs from their most recent release, 2010’s Red Velvet Car.
It’s a rootsy affair – heavy on the acoustic guitar, trademark harmony vocals and muscular electric rock riffery, and the reaction from an enthusiastic crowd (of all ages) illustrates how much esteem these first ladies of rock are held in. Opening with ‘Barracuda’ (a song given a new lease of life thanks to it popping up on Guitar Hero and American Idol) sets the agenda and it’s the ’70s hits and the newest material that fare the best, matching the band’s current strippeddown approach.
Having said that, fans of the big ballads will not be disappointed – über hits ‘What About Love’, ‘Never’ and ‘Alone’ are all present, albeit in a slightly different guise than expected. It’s a brave move to bring on a guest artist to take the lead vocal on one of your band’s biggest hits, but that’s exactly what happens when country star Alison Krauss pops up to sing ‘These Dreams’. While Night At Sky Church is beautifully shot, focusing not only upon the leading sisters but the entire band, it’s the soundtrack that really impresses.
Ann Wilson’s soaring voice sounds as strong as it ever has and the band are tight (even if they appear to lack a little of the fire that drives the sisters). It’s a pity that an opportunity has been missed in terms of the bonuses on the disc. All we’re given are two additional tracks from the same concert – ‘Back To Avalon’ from 1993’s Desire Walks On and a blistering version of 1978’s ‘Little Queen Kick It Out’.
Surely an interview wouldn’t have been too much to ask? Especially considering the opening titles are a great, if all too short, glimpse into the band’s nearly four-decade history.
A delight for UK Heart fans who’ve been starved of the band’s live show since 2004.