Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Heart Of Rock And Roll

The very second concert I ever saw was Heart back in 1980 when I was still in high school and the ink was still wet on my driver's license. This week Ann and Nancy Wilson brought their current tour to Baltimore. I thought it would be interesting to see how they have held up after 29 years.
Heart 1980
Heart 2009
Blurry Overexposed Photo

Are you kidding? It was impossible to take concert photos in the 80s.

There were signs everywhere that no photos or cellphone pictures were allowed. I got this one off before security tapped me on the shoulder and gave me the evil eye.

Lakeland Civic Center: An hour drive from my house, but one of two places in central Florida to see rock acts, the other being the long defunct St. Pete Bayfront Center.
Baltimore's Pier Six: The open air pavilion where all the nostalgia acts go all summer long. It used to be all 60s era soul groups, but with Rams Head doing the booking the shows skew just a bit younger now.


Twelve bucks for the ticket and another eight for the three-quarter sleeve black and white softball jersey tee shirt that I wore once a week for a year.
Sixty dollars including an outrageous amount of of fees and charges. The souvenir shirts were more than what I paid for the whole show back in the day.

Pre-Show Attitude Adjustment
My parents read this blog, but lets say some plants gave their lives for my enjoyment.
Ruth's Chris has a killer lemonade martini. It was lucky I was able to find the concert without falling into the harbor.
Opening Act

The Heat: A band so bad they got booed for their entire set.

Daniela Cotton: A self-proclaimed Black Puerto-Rican rocker that thought it was great to be opening for such famous female rock role models.

Once upon a time all rock shows were general admission 'festival' seating. Rather than fight the mobs in front of the stage, we found seats in about the fourth row of the lower seating area.
The back of section 110 was amazingly close to the stage and we had a great view of the whole show. The Pier Six website lets you pick your exact seat. We got two right next to a pole, so I had a place to set my drink all night.

Stage Show

Straight ahead rock and roll. They had a huge gong set up just behind the stage that was there just for the end of 'Dog and Butterfly'. That was showmanship.
Rather generic. Just the usual flashing lights. The drummer was very distracting because she looked just like the goth chick on NCIS.

Amusing Anecdote

Halfway through a guitar solo a stray frisbee hit Nancy right in chest and she never missed a note.
Nancy still likes to rock and she does plenty of high kicks and spins. And nobody is throwing frisbees at her any more.


Nancy had big blond hair and a black leather bustier. What was not to like.Nancy is now a redhead and wears denim instead. Ann is well into her caftan phase.

Low Point

The string of three ballads in a row nearly put me to sleep.
With a huge catalog, two Led Zeppelin songs and "Reign Over Me" was a bit cover heavy.

Noticeable Omissions

I really didn't know much about them, so I had no way to tell.
They were pretty neglectful of their late 80s power ballads, particularly "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" for which I am very grateful.
Show Length

I can't possibly remember, but I did get home by midnight like I promised my parents I would.
100 minutes from the start to the end of encore. About the shortest show you can get away with.


There was a casualness to those old concerts in the crappy crowded Lakeland Civic Center which was inexplicably on the major concert tour circuit. You could get tickets just days before a show and general admission meant you always had a seat as good as you wanted to fight for.

Ann Wilson's voice is as good as it ever was. She tears into all the high notes with a fury and shows what rock is all about. It's great to see rock stars from my youth still plugging away with the same energy and not going the "seated and unplugged" route.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: How have concerts changed from your first ones?


DemetriosX said...

I haven't been to a concert in years, at least not for big names. Local bands in local venues, sure, but then that was always my preference anyway. My first real concert was Tom Petty's Hard Promises tour (with Stevie Nicks and seats close enough to see her well) at the Fabulous Forum.

Festival seating may have been standard where you were in Florida, but in California it was only for outdoor (non-stadium) venues and things like the Us Festival. There certainly wasn't any at the Forum, the Hollywood Bowl, the Universal Amphitheater, etc. I think the only big name show I ever saw with festival seating was Jimmy Buffet in the late 80s.

But I had forgotten all about 3/4 sleeve concert shirts. My favorite was from the Animals with a tiger bursting through a Union Jack. Wore that a lot until I had an Argentine professor during the Falklands War.

Anonymous said...

You've got Ann and Nancy switched. Nancy is now redhead in denim and Ann is in her "caftan phase". I'm betting it's Nancy who does a lot of kicks and spins. And it's likely Ann's voice that is as good as it ever was.

yellojkt said...

You're right. I had them completely reversed. It's been fixed.

I wish I still had my David Lee Roth era Van Halen softball tee.

Cartophiliac said...

I saw Yes for the first time in 1976 and the last time around 1998. They still play their instruments as well as always, not the same intensity to their shows. Jon cannot sing as high as he used to (not singing at all on their current tour). In 1976, the opening act was "Natural Gas" and yes, they stank. They were booed off the stage.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I'd be glad they omitted All I Wanna Do. That was the song that helped wreck their career.