Live In Atlantic City With Heart
Bruce Von Stiers
In the fall of 2006, a music cable network, VH-1, began a special concert series. This series was titled Decades of Rock Live! The concerts were held at the then named Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. Some of the musical acts who performed for the concert series included Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Nora Jones and The Pretenders.
One of those concerts featured my very favorite rock band, Heart. The concert was in March of 2006 and, along with Heart, featured several guest performers.
Songs from that concert have now been released on a new album from Heart. The title of the album is Live In Atlantic City. The album is being released by earMUSIC. The album contains fourteen songs and has a play time of sixty-seven minutes.
There is also a DVD and Blu-Ray release of the concert that I will tell you about later in the review.
Heart has had minor band member changes off and on over the years. At the time of the concert, the core members of the band were Craig Bartock, Mike Inez, Ben Smith, Debbie Shair and sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson. Craig was on guitars while Mike was on bass. Ben did the drums and percussion. Debbie was on keyboards and accordion. Nancy played acoustic and electric guitars and the mandolin. She also provided some lead and backing vocals Ann did the majority of the lead vocals and played acoustic guitar and flute.
The first song on the album is Bébé Le Strange. Dave Navarro was the guest performer for the song. Having been a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, at the time of the concert, Navarro was a band member of Jane's Addiction. He played lead guitar along with Craig on the song. Although this isn't one of my favorite Heart songs, it definitely killed it with guitar and vocals.
Navarro also lends his guitar expertise to Straight On. This is one of my favorite Heart songs. Ann puts a little extra oomph into the vocals on this one. A little personal history side note on this song. I have a fond memory of watching my friend Colleen at a local dance contest dancing her way to a finalist position dancing to this song.
Next up is Crazy On You. Once again Navarro is on guitar with the band. Aside from the guys playing guitar, Ann's vocals are subtle at times, then when she hits the higher notes, wow. And then there's Nancy's fantastic guitar intro and her great playing throughout the song.
Lost Angel is a gentle song with mostly mild vocals and acoustic guitar featuring Nancy. There is a cool electric guitar solo to end of the song by Craig.
Another one of the Heart songs I really like is Even It Up. In this rendition of the song, Gretchen Wilson steps in on lead vocals for the first part of the song. Then Ann takes over lead vocal, with Gretchen, Nancy and the others doing backing vocals.
Anybody who knows anything about the band knows that Ann and Nancy are big Led Zepplin fans. They had often played Zep songs in their concerts. For this concert, the band rolled out their rendition of the Led Zepplin song, Rock And Roll. Both Ann and Gretchen Wilson do a great job on the vocals on the song. And the music behind the vocals emulates the original song well.
One of most beautiful and gentle Heart songs is Dog and Butterfly. Rufus Wainwright came onto the stage at the concert to do the lead vocals for the first part of the song. Ann took over lead vocals halfway through the song. Then Rufus and Ann took turns on the vocals near the end of the song. It was a terrific melding of vocals.
Alice In Chains was one of the guest performers for the concert. One of their songs is Would? The band performed the song during the concert. This song, however, didn't make it onto the concert footage for the DVD/ Blu-Ray. It is a pretty tough rock song with strong guitar and drums.
They follow that up with a song that did make the concert footage. This is Rooster. It has some great guitar and features Duff McKagan as a sideman for the song. McKagan had been a founding member of Guns N Roses. At the time of the concert, McKagan was playing with the rock supergroup Velvet Revolver. Also featured on vocals on the song was Phil Anselmo of Pantera fame.
Even though they weren't really known for songs that tugged at your heart strings, Heart had one particular song that is sad yet beautiful at the same time. That song is Alone. For the concert, Ann is joined on vocals by Carrie Underwood. Less than a year after winning American Idol, she was already one of the most sought after artists around. Carrie did a fantastic job with her share of the lead vocals on this song.
No Heart concert would be complete without one of their first signature songs. That song is Magic Man. This live version was every bit as great as the studio album version.
Moving back once again into their Led Zepplin fan mode, the band kicks it out with a rendition of Misty Mountain Hop. Dave Navarro comes back in to help out with the guitar work on the song.
When I first listened to the album Dreamboat Annie, I became an instant fan of the band's music. The title song on that album, Dreamboat Annie, is gentle and beautiful. For the concert, not only did Ann provide velvety vocals on this song, she also played some wonderful flute.
The album concludes with a killer rendition of Barracuda.
Now, for the concert on the DVD / Blu-Ray.
There is a main menu that has two selections. The first is the concert footage. The second selection is something titled Heart Confidential.
Heart Confidential is a relaxed, green room interview with the various performers of the concert. It was hosted and led by Barry Summer, the producer of the Decades of Rock Live! Concert series. This segment lasts seven minutes and has the guest performers talking about how Heart influenced their own music.
Once you select the concert selection, there is a list of individual songs that you can watch. Or you can watch the concert in its entirety. With the song from Alice In Chains removed from the concert footage, the play time comes in at just under sixty-four minutes.
All of the video segments are great. One in particular is my favorite. It is for the song Crazy On You. Nancy is absolutely incredible with her intro to the song. I have had the pleasure of seeing the band twice in concert performing the song. And Nancy's guitar intro to the song is always fantastic.
For Heart fans, this is the one of the best, if not the best, live albums that the band has brought forth. Not only does the band do a fantastic job with their signature songs, the guest performers enhance the listening experience tremendously.
The album version of Live In Atlantic City is available at just about every music retailer there is. For the concert footage portion, that has been released in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats. These also are available everywhere.
If you didn't already have this listed among your browser favorites, the official web site for Heart can be found at https://www.heart-music.com/ . Their Facebook fan page is https://www.facebook.com/heart/
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© 2019 Bruce E Von Stiers