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Veteran Sister Rockers in Heart “Rock the Ribbon”

Having been born in the early 80’s, I’ve missed out on seeing a lot of classic acts in their prime. A lot still tour, but can never sound as good as they did some 30 – 40 years ago. Anyone who has seen Heart’s performance of Stairway to Heaven when the Kennedy Center honored Led Zeppelin a few years ago knows this is not the case with Heart. They sound as good now as they did on Little Queen back in 1977.

Over 1600 people packed into the Midland theater, on Friday night, and it was for a good cause. It was the Kansas City chapter of the Susan G. Komen foundation’s inaugural fund raiser, Rock the Ribbon, complete with dinner, speeches, and some heartwarming appearances by cancer survivors whom the foundation has helped. They wanted to make a showing with their first bash, and did very well in choosing Heart.

With little more than five musicians, and some patterned lights, Heart delivered a 90 minute performance filled with highs, and lows, sadness, and sweetness (but mostly highs). Things kicked off (no pun intended) with Kick it Out off of 1977’s Little Queen, followed by Heartless, and then slowing down a bit with What About Love.

One of the most striking things to me was how unchanged Ann’s voice is after nearly 40 years. She effortlessly hit the high notes in songs like Barracuda and Crazy On You. While other musicians might have lowered the key of the songs, Ann rushed in headlong, and did so flawlessly.

Heart also introduced some new material into the set, a sweet power ballad-esque song called Two, a cover of a song by R&B artist Ne-Yo, featuring Nancy on lead vocals. I’m surprised she didn’t sing more often on the records.

The music industry received some sad news on Friday, with the passing of former Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilot’s front-man, Scott Weiland. The band did take a moment to pay tribute to him, and dedicated the performance of Sand to him a song, Ann says, they don’t normally play.

As the evening drew to a close, Heart busted out their biggest radio hits, with Crazy on You, and Barracuda, which brought most everyone to their feet. With a spotlight on Nancy during the acoustic opening, she played an extended version, stopping hard at several points to tease the audience. When the electric riff came down, the place erupted, and Ann was clearly at her peak.

After Barracuda the band left the stage briefly, before returning for an encore of Led Zeppelin songs, with Immigrant Song, No Quarter, and Misty Mountain Hop. Ann’s vocals, and Nancy’s guitar lends themselves well to Zeppelin music, and while it would’ve been nice to have heard a few more of Heart’s songs (Magic Man?), it’s hard to argue with Ann when she sings, “We are your overlords”.

Heart performed at the Midland Theater in Kansas City on Friday, December 5th

Set list: Kick it Out/Heartless/What About Love/Gotta offa that Thing/Straight On/These Dreams/Two/Sand/Heaven/Alone/Even it Up/Bebe Le Strange/God Give Me Strength/Crazy On You/Barracuda/Immigrant Song/No Quarter/Misty Mountain Hop