By Chuck Cox
There are some concert experiences I walk away from feeling somewhat underwhelmed. And there are some that have me checking my iPhone to see where the tour goes next so I could see another show. Thursday’s “Heartbreaker Tour,” featuring recently inducted Rock And Roll Hall of Famers Heart, along with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, was absolutely the latter.
From the word go, this Gexa Energy Pavilion show was absolutely flawless. Jason Bonham, son of late Led Zep drummer John Bonham, and his band took the stage first and played eight Zeppelin classics, including “Rock and Roll,” “Black Dog,” and “Whole Lotta Love” during a 50-minute set. Of course, Bonham was spectacular behind the drum kit, but lead singer James Dylan was spot-on when it came to the unenviable task of belting out tunes Robert Plant made famous.
And then it was time for Heart. I can’t emphasize enough just how amazing this band is live. I had only seen Heart once before Thursday night — and that was as an opening act. Let’s just say I plan to make up for lost time each time Heart rolls through town in the future. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson looked and sounded spectacular. If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn I was listening to the band play live in its 1970s hey day, Then again, I can’t imagine that being better than what the first ladies of rock and roll threw down on Thursday.
Right off the bat, Heart hit the crowd with “Barracuda,” “Heartless,” What About Love,” and “Magic Man.” The band mostly stuck to the classics during the 13-song main set. “Dog and Butterfly” and “Alone” were absolutely sublime. Ann Wilson has such an incredible voice. And the entire band brought its “A Game” for an unseasonable comfortable night outside.
As if that wasn’t enough, the six-song encore consisted of Heart doing all Led Zeppelin songs. After Ann and Nancy went to the stage extension into the crowd to start things off with an acoustic “Battle of Evermore,” Bonham and band members came back out to play the rest of the show, which included “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Immigrant Song,” “The Rain Song,” “Kashmir,” and, of course, “Stairway to Heaven,” Hearing Led Zeppelin songs with a female singer was pretty cool. And the last time I saw Heart, the band played “Going to California.”
This was a show I would have kicked myself for missing. It’s right up there with my favorites this year. Very impressive stuff.