Saturday, Nov. 9

The term "classic-rock" can be applied either with either respect or derision. Heart requires the former usage. This pioneering rock band, led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson since the mid-1970s, has sold more than 30 million albums, seen dozens of their songs hit the charts and enjoyed Top 10 albums during four different decades. In the process, the Wilsons have paved the way for countless female rockers to take charge of their own musical directions.

Despite the fact that much of the material during their 90-minute concert this past Saturday at AVA was more than 35 years old, vocalist Ann and guitarist Nancy, accompanied by a skilled four-piece backing band, attacked their hits with the drive and passion of players 40 years younger.

The show began with Nancy cranking out the immortal galloping chords of "Barracuda" on her Gibson, and the momentum continued to build from there as Heart nailed their signature blend of blues-based hard-rock and sensitive folk. Highlights included upbeat rockers such as "Heartless," "Kick It Out," "Magic Man," "Even It Up" and "Crazy on You." On many of these, Nancy tangled and twined with co-guitarist Craig Bartok, the two alternating solos and rhythm parts.

Although heavy on the hits, the show avoided Heart's more syrupy '90s pop numbers, and for the fans who love deep cuts, they did the prog-rock "Mistral Wind." The audience seemed pleased to sing along to power ballads such as "Alone" and "These Dreams." Nancy sang lead on the latter and performed a touching solo acoustic rendition of Elton John's "I Need You to Turn To."

In another band, Nancy would have been a solid lead singer, but Ann proved she still possesses the best female voice in rock—a cannon both precise and powerful—hitting all those famous notes. Heart was able to make their familiar hits sound fresh, even the ones for which the fans knew every lyric, guitar lick and seismic chord change.

Speaking of classic rock, the encore consisted of inspired covers of three Zeppelin tunes: "Immigrant Song," "The Rain Song" and "Misty Mountain Hop." It was evidence that, in the absence of any foreseeable Led Zep reunion, Heart remains the pre-eminent interpreter of that band's music.

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