When Heart, Joan Jett and Cheap Trick announced their tour earlier this year, I figured Heart were playing last because someone had to, but it didn't feel like there was a true headliner. All three are recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, all three have had #1 singles, and all three haven't released music with any real impact in decades. But at the Bethel Woods (location of the original Woodstock) show on Saturday, it became pretty clear why Heart headlined.
The whole show was good, but Cheap Trick are a little on the washed up side. They sounded great playing hits like "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me" and "Dream Police," but even on those you did get the vibe that you were watching an Old Band. Joan Jett is a total legend, but her best songs are Runaways songs and she only played two of those (getting to see "Cherry Bomb" live is reason enough to see her though). Her set opened with bangers and closed with a few too, but the middle portion dragged a bit.
By the time Heart came on though, the entire mood of the night shifted. The stage was lit up with dim reds as psychedelic atmosphere and tribal drumming filled the room before Ann and Nancy Wilson showed their faces. Finally they both walked out, opened with "Wild Child," and instantly made it clear that Heart still perform like a band in their prime. Ann's pipes haven't aged a bit and they soared over the mix with the same kind of command she has on the early records. I was truly impressed. After "Wild Child," they got right into the good stuff, giving us the first classic of the night: Dreamboat Annie opener "Magic Man." From there, the set had a mix of more classics, massive '80s-era hits like "These Dreams," and material from the album that (you had no idea) they just put out in July. Too bad James Hetfield couldn't show up for his harmonies on "Beautiful Broken."
The pre-encore set ended with the unfuckwithable trio of "Alone" into "Crazy On You" into "Barracuda," which was such a perfect closer that it was hard to imagine what they'd even play when they came back. Lo and behold, the encore was two Zeppelin covers: "Immigrant Song" and "Stairway to Heaven."
The tour also hit the NYC-area on July 28 at Jones Beach and July 31 at BB&T Pavilion. It returns to the area on September 10 at PNC Bank Arts Center in NJ. Tickets for that show are still available.
Check out the setlists and a few more Instagram pics/videos from (the rainy) Bethel Woods below...