Heart’s Led Zeppelin adoration has never been a secret, but it wasn’t until last night at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, when I heard "Magic Man" - with its thick, relentless chug-a chug-a foundation - that I connected the Led Zep dots directly to "Magic Man", as I started singing along in my head to it, with the lyrics to "Immigrant Song".
Not even half way in to the show though, a disjointed and curious set of covers slowed things down, and the sisters almost didn’t get their groove back. While "Your Move" by Yes could pass as a Heart original from the early days, their delivery was nothing special. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" made sense, leading into and then mashing up with "Straight On". Simon & Garfunkel’s "The Boxer" just wasn’t very good. Yes, the band nailed Pink Floyd’s "Comfortably Numb". But why?
By that point, the string of low energy songs felt as claustrophobic as the humidity that hung over the venue.
And the tempo just got more sluggish when their three big power ballads - "These Dreams", "What About Love", and "Alone" - were given the sleepy treatment. Then, the first half of "Mistral Wind" delivered more of the same, and being less familiar to the masses, led many to file out to the concession stands and the parking lot. After that seven song stretch of resting heartbeat tempo, "Crazy On You" eventually woke up the crowd.
During those last 15-20 minutes of Heart’s set, singer Ann Wilson seemed to be struggling with the high notes, especially on "Crazy On You". Prior to that, she was a powerhouse pro on both the love songs and the screamers. Guitar goddess Nancy Wilson confidentially strutted the stage, and her backing vocals were adequate. But when she sang lead, she was drowned out by Ann’s harmonies, due to mic issues and the fact that she’s just not as strong a singer as her sister.
They encored with a faithfully jaunty Led Zeppelin cover, "The Battle of Evermore", then down shifted again for a slow motion arrangement of "Alone", finally turning it up and closing the show with "Barracuda".
Fashion note: those ladies must have been sweltering under the lights and in the summer heat, wearing boots and long sleeves and what looked like velvet. Nancy’s strumming and picking hand was bedazzled in a black lacy glove, part of a flowy feminine ensemble of poofy and lushly patterned fabrics, dangly things and long curly blonde locks. Ann was channeling a more chunky shoulder-padded 80s Lady/KT Oslin or Delta Burke look, in an unflattering billowy blue velvet frock that revealed an occasional flash of black bike shorts or SPANX underneath. The shapeless shift made her appear far heavier than she probably is, as her legs looked toned and trim - although covered in sheer colored tights and paired with white sneakers, she was rocking kind of a "Working Girl/Tess McGill on her way to work" vibe.