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Ann Wilson expands concert performance beyond Heart songs

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The formal name of the concert tour which had a May 7 performance at Pala Casino is “An Evening With Ann Wilson of Heart and the Amazing Dawgs.” During the May 7 show, the 16 songs performed by Wilson and her band included some Heart classics but also included material from her recently-released album, Fierce Bliss, and from other rock bands.

Wilson came to prominence with Heart, which also featured her sister. Without Nancy Wilson some adjustments were necessary for Ann Wilson to perform a concert. Nancy Wilson opened the full band version of “Crazy on You” with an acoustic guitar solo. The three Amazing Dawgs members with guitars had electric and bass guitars, so the May 7 introduction was with an electric guitar. Nancy Wilson was the actual singer for “These Dreams,” so that song was not performed during the Pala Casino concert nor was “Alone.”

Wilson performed “Magic Man” and “Barracuda” along with “Crazy on You,” and perhaps that puts her current tour songs into perspective. When Heart’s debut “Dreamboat Annie” album, which included "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man," was released in 1975, Heart was a pioneer as a female-led rock act.

Grace Slick shared Jefferson Starship lead singer duties with Paul Kantner; Janis Joplin had been dead for nearly five years; Fleetwood Mac’s first album with Stevie Nicks is more pop than the rock which would appear in subsequent Fleetwood Mac albums, and The Runaways (with Joan Jett), Pat Benatar, and Bonnie Tyler hadn’t yet released their first album. Female artists such as Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, and Diana Ross were pop rather than rock. The Wilson sisters did something different, and that could describe the Pala Casino concert.

Fierce Bliss was released April 29, only eight days before the Pala performance. Five of Wilson’s songs May 7 were from the Fierce Bliss album, which could be considered a mix of rock and blues. The lack of a saxophone or other acoustic instruments other than drums gives the songs a rock orientation, but Wilson’s singing itself turns those songs into blues melodies. Wilson paid tribute to some of her musical idols by recording some of their songs on Fierce Bliss. The May 7 concert also included two Led Zeppelin songs which comprised the encore and Wilson’s version of the Aerosmith song “Dream On.”

Not including a 17-minute intermission, the concert lasted nearly an hour and a half. The audience saw not Heart but Ann Wilson of Heart and the Amazing Dawgs. However, they saw the spirit of what made Heart the band it was in the 1970s.


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