Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Song of the Day: 'Magic Man' (live) by Heart ... and More!

As part of my later-in-life promise to continue seeing as many music legends as I can before it's too late, Damian and I caught Heart with special guests Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on Friday at the Prudential Center. To say it was a dream come true might sound hyperbolic. But the collective joy these two acts have brought into my life can hardly be overstated, so suffice to say tears were shed, face muscles hurt (from smiling) and I went home a very happy man. (Also ran into my old friend Tim Anderson and my ex-boyfriend Michael!) 

Kudos to Joan for being fun, accessible and giving the crowd exactly what it wanted. (When she opened with "Do You Wanna Touch Me" we knew she wasn't messing around!) Including her punk cover of the theme from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" only added to the stellar set list, which included "Victim of Circumstance," "Cherry Bomb"(!), "Light of Day," "Fake Friends," "Everyday People," "Crimson and Clover" (complete with Tommy James vocal-warble effects!), the Replacements' (more timely than ever) "Androgynous" and, of course, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and the codependent anthem "I Hate Myself for Loving You." 

And then the Wilson sisters took the stage. I had hoped the tour meant they had kissed and made up from their falling out a few years ago -- of course a horrible man is to blame -- but from the looks of things they just had taxes to pay. (They barely acknowledged one another.) Their fraternal frostiness did nothing to chill the mood, though. After opening with an album track -- "Rockin' Down Heaven" from 1980s's "Bebe le Strange" -- they immediately had the crowd eating out their unconnected hands with a one-two punch of "Magic Man" and "Love Alive."

 I wasn't sure how they were going to navigate their 1970s catalog (classic Heart) versus their 1980s comeback catalog (sellout Heart), but they found a nice middle ground. In addition to the aforementioned '70s gems, "Straight On" (cleverly melded into "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"), "Dog and Butterfly" (THE song of my family's 1979 move from Detroit to Phoenix, as it played constantly on the radio when we arrived in the desert), "Little Queen," "Even It Up," "Crazy on You" and "Barracuda" were all included. For fans of their more successful pop era, Ann hit all the right notes on the band's comeback smash "What About Love?" (Did you know it was written by and originally recorded by Canadian Heart wannabes Toronto, but half the band hated it so it was never released until years after Heart made it smash?!) Then Nancy took to the mic to sing lead on "These Dreams," which ironically wound up being their first No. 1 hit. During the encore they did their classic take on "Stairway to Heaven" -- it's so Led Zeppelinesque that Shazam thinks it's the original -- and then their other No. 1, "Alone."

While I'm on Team Classic Heart all the way, even I was willing to concede that they might have thrown the crowd another '80s bone or two -- a couple covers could have been replaced with maybe "Never" and "Nothin' at All." Or if they were insistent on rocking, "If Looks Could Kill" or "Who Will You Run to" would work in a pinch. (I wasn't complaining, though. I loved their versions Yes's "Your Move" and Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer.) But I think there was a collective sigh of relief that their last big hit, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" was left in the rearview mirror. (We can all acknowledge what an embarrassment that was, right? Blame it on Mutt Lange!) The women may still be holding a grudge. But from the reaction of the crowd, the sisters' work has left an indelible mark on music history, something that will be remembered long after they -- and their squabble -- has been buried.

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