NEWARK, NJ – When Heart opened its April 6 show with “Barracuda,” a song that frontwomen Ann and Nancy Wilson wrote in 1977 as an angry response to sexism in the music industry, it was a reminder that not a lot has changed for women since then. But if Ann (age 63) and Nancy (age 60) proved anything, besides the fact that they’re still “the female Led Zeppelin,” it’s that even in a hypersexualized, cookie-cutter culture you can call the shots and be original.
Ann’s powerful voice and Nancy’s moody guitar helped shatter rock’s glass ceiling in the ‘70s. Not only were the sisters considered the first women to front a hard rock band, but the first to write their own songs and play their own instruments. That contribution was recognized last year when Heart broke into another boys club, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Heart’s career spans over 40 years, and while Ann and Nancy admit in their book, Kicking & Dreaming: A Story Of Heart, Soul, And Rock & Roll, that their climb to the top in a male-dominated industry was challenging, the sisters stayed true to their shared vision, selling over 30 million records along the way.
With six Top 10 albums, 20 Top 40 singles, and four Grammy nominations, Heart had plenty of jukebox staples to choose from during their show at NJPAC.
The band revisited its early days with songs like “Crazy On You,” “Heartless,” “Dog & Butterfly,” and “Kick It Out,” as well as ’80s hits, including “These Dreams,” “What About Love,” and “Alone.” Ann graciously thanked the audience for being “open minded” when the band worked in newer tunes like “Mashallah,” “59 Crunch,” and “Dear Old America.”
“We’re songwriters,” said Ann. “We just keep it up. And we can’t seem to stop.”
It was fitting for a band that inspired so many to pay homage to one of its own influences, Led Zeppelin, encoring with covers of three of their songs: “Immigrant Song,” “The Rain Song,” and “Misty Mountain Hop.”
At approximately 90 minutes, the concert seemed short, but Ann and Nancy filled that time with a Whole Lotta Heart.