CHEAP TRICK / HEART / JOAN JETT
Sit down a minute, Children. Let the elders of the music world show you how it’s done. For all of you who still think rock and roll is just a young person’s game, who think that once you hit 30, it’s all over, I’d like to introduce you to Robin Zander, Joan Jett, and Ann and Nancy Wilson.
It was a balmy night in Kearns, Utah when the seasoned rockers took the stage at what is arguably the best venue in the Salt Lake Valley. Playing to a mixed ages crowd, kids as young as nine danced in the aisles with grandfathers as music that proves to stand the test of time rocketed out across those gathered.
While it can be expected that Joan Jett and Heart will bring everything they have to the stage, the surprise of the night was eighties rockers Cheap Trick who delivered on radio favorites and had the crowd singing along to I Want You to Want Me and Dream Police and their cover of Magical Mystery Tour held its own against the Beatles original. Robin Zander held the audience in the palm of his hand, giving a respect to their own music that is sometimes lacking in younger bands. There’s no shame in good music that entertains people in a popular way, and if it can be performed to the highest quality, then it’s a treat worth celebrating. Cheap Trick delivered on the party.
But the truth is, every rocker should strive to be Joan Jett when they grow up. Almost every night for the past forty years, the pint sized punk rocker has strapped on a guitar that weighs more than she does and gone out on stage to deliver ass kicking music aimed at women not through the male gaze, but through her own, speaking out about everything from love, to abusive relationships, and of course, the power of rock and roll. Throughout her set, Jett never gave up on a crowd that was at times lackluster – when their favorite songs were not being played – and together the Blackhearts taught a clinic on how to work together as a band. With classics that dated back to her Runaway days – Cherry Bomb being the most popular, up through new tunes, to of course, I Love Rock and Roll, Jett looked younger than many of the kids in the crowd. A set that was stripped down to the basics – nothing too flashy, nothing too catchy – she proved that all rock needs is a solid band – and some torn up jeans.
Still, the queens of the night were Ann and Nancy Wilson. As the sisters led their band on stage for the final set of the night, an excited cheer rustled through the crowd. But the worry remained – would Ann be able to deliver on her famous vocals. She is 66 and her health has been up and down over the years. Within seconds of her opening run, it was clear: she’s still got it. And while she might not be able to hit the high C anymore, Nancy can’t do her high kicks either. So there are some concessions made for age.
From start to finish, Heart delivered a powerful set, demanding a place at the table they helped to build. The highlight of the night however, was the haunting cover of Ne-Yo’s Two, which had Nancy doing lead vocals in a way that drifted right across the hearts of the couples watching. A slight change in the guitar arrangement for These Dreams gave the song a much more light hearted tune, and Ann brought the house to its knees as the set wrapped up with a magical cover of Stairway to Heaven, reminding everyone that Heart is in fact the world’s highest paid Led Zeppelin cover band. For good reason. They do Zeppelin better than the originals.
The tour is still making its way across the country and if it’s in your area, it is worth every penny to watch these history makers keep on writing the books.