April 6, 2017 | Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA – Ann Wilson’s recent April 6 performance at Glenside’s (PA) Keswick Theater can be summed up in a series of one word refrains. Adjectives such as, wow, outstanding, amazing, unbelievable and driving all come to mind. There could be many more added to the list, however the point is; the “Ann Wilson of Heart Tour,” is one of the best shows of this young 2017 concert season.
Taking the stage a modest 11 minutes past the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start, Wilson walked out to tremendous applause as she and her band broke into The Who’s, “The Real Me,” showcasing the still edgy side of Wilson’s vocal ability. With nary a pause, she followed this with a very “Heart-esque” version of “Barracuda,” spearheaded by her Heart band mate Craig Bartock on guitar.
“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it;” it’s a good thing that Wilson pays absolutely no attention to that old cliché as she performed the first of several reworked Heart songs. Try as he may to disguise the intro, keyboardist Dan Walker started “Crazy On You,” as a slow ballad; easily recognizable to the hard core Heart fans. This calmer version of the classic tune was very well received and once again, its retooling allowed Wilson to “stretch it out, “a bit. During the rendition, an admire handed her a bouquet of flowers from the front row which she promptly acknowledged and then placed the offering on the drum riser.
Taking a breather to say hello and introducing herself as, “Ann Wilson Of Heart,” further establishing her solo identity, she jokingly referred to her stage partners as, “And the band,” because, “The band has no name yet.” Then as if someone flipped a switch, the band began the slow introduction into what would become the Ann version of, “What About Love.” This was the first of several times during the evening that saw Denny Fongheiser use his hands to play the drum kit, which was the perfect touch for this pared down Heart classic.
“I wrote this next one while sitting in the back yard with Craig Bartock. A perfect day, the sun was shining, the weather was beautiful; a perfect day to write a blues song,” she said with a slight laugh as the crowd laughed along with and they launched into the powerful, “Fool No More.” Upon it’s completion, Wilson apologized for the lingering effects of a recent cold and confessed to some “Feelings” she experienced, “This song made me tingly when I was 10 years old” and with that they dove into the oldie but goodie, “One Night With You,” complete with accompanying sultry video images on the large screen located behind the band which made more than one squirm in their seats.
“Anguish” was on tap next and like a well poured brew, Wilson delivered it with perfection. “I had lived a quiet life,” she explained prior to the song. “There was this band I’m in and I had a quiet life but not a private life. I had public and band lives and then one day there was a knock at my door and it was love. Now, I didn’t know if I should let him in but I did and I wrote this two weeks later as I sat in my hotel room on tour pining away for Mr. Love.”
“I’m turning this one over to the band,” said Wilson who seemed to really enjoy letting the boys shred a bit as they next plowed through the Hendrix classic, “Manic Depression,” leading to an ever so brief intermission.
“A Million Miles,” led off the second half of the program and cooked along splendidly. A keyboard interlude bridged the gap between it and the timeless Yes piece, “It’s Your Move,” as Walker slipped on an accordion and electric guitars were exchanged for acoustic ones. Stopping just short of the amped up section, the lights dimmed and bassist Andy Stoller cajoled the first notes of The Black Crowes, “She Talks To Angels” out of his finger tips, sending the already enthusiastic crowd’s response up another notch.
“One of the things about being on the road is that you get a feeling for the country,” Wilson stated as she gave the band time to readjust. “Some people are like; What Just Happened? Other people are saying, Everything’s great” and from there they broke into a well orchestrated version of Peter Gabriel’s, “Don’t Give Up,” taking many in the crowd by surprise.
A bluesy version of The Animals, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” gave way to a raucous, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again,” which slid nicely into a more toned down, “Alone.” The next and last offering was a stirring re-creation of another Who classic, “Love Reign O’er Me,” done in a manner which, without a doubt Townsend and Daltry would approve of; it also brought the second set to a close at 9:18 p.m.
Only a minute later, the band made their way back on stage and began the encore with a percussion laden intro into a unique version of the Buffalo Springfield mainstay, “For What It’s Worth,” followed by Aretha Franklin’s, “Aint No Way.”
A second encore saw Ann get gritty once again as the unit laid down a slow blues version of, “I Put A Spell On You.” With her voice enticing them like a siren, those who had begun to leave were sent scurrying back to their seats as many didn’t expect a second encore. “My mother used to love this song,” she said chuckling, “She’d play it when she was about to snap.” Then a soulful version of Ray Charle’s, “Danger Zone,” brought the crowd back to a sane level and sending them home shaking their heads in awe at 9:42 p.m. as this was the night’s last offering.
A fantastic show from a fantastic talent and one that continued to solidify Wilson’s rightful place as one of the top female vocalists in rock history. Wilson is taking some time off before hitting the road again in the middle of May in Indio, CA.
For more information on Ann Wilson, please visit:
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)
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