Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review: Heart’s comeback roar echoes through Tacoma Dome during all-star Love Alive tour stop

Heart brought their Love Alive tour to the Tacoma Dome Wednesday. Sisters Nancy, left, and Ann, seen here during a previous tour stop, are playing their first... (Kimberly Adamis, file) More

“Ooh. Barra-cooo-da,” wailed Ann Wilson, an upward inflection on that razor sharp “cooo” sticking like a switchblade on a sticky bar top.

Meanwhile, her sister Nancy Wilson hammered that unmistakable galloping riff, with two other ace guitarists chugging along in unison like three well-oiled pistons powering Heart’s motoring classic, “Barracuda.” As if closing this two-hour joy ride through the Northwest rock greats’ 40-plus-year career — with many scenic detours — with anything else were a serious option. The on-their-feet Tacoma Dome crowd erupted in appreciation after the final downhill churn.

The Seattle-grown rock heroes’ Love Alive tour barreled through Tacoma Dome on Wednesday, marking the Wilson sisters’ first tour together in three years. Family tension put Heart on the shelf after Ann Wilson’s husband, Dean Wetter, allegedly assaulted Nancy Wilson’s then 16-year-old twin sons backstage during a 2016 White River Amphitheatre concert. Wetter eventually pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal that spared him jail time.

There would be no overtly sentimental show of harmony Wednesday on the curtain-lined stage, done up like an elegant ballroom. Really, one of the only gratuitous displays of affection came from a canoodling couple in the crowd during the band’s potent (and more popularized) spin on Toronto’s “What About Love,” which made Tacoma Dome feel like a cozy, glitzy (given the ballroom motif) karaoke bar, listening to someone with way better pipes than your co-worker. If only Tacoma Dome brass would’ve sprung for personal fog machines under each of those roomy new seats it would’ve been ’80s nostalgia heaven.

“Yep, it’s us,” Ann Wilson said with a chuckle after a bewitched “Magic Man” early on. It was the only real acknowledgment of the temporary split, unless we’re to read into their intro music choice of The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.

As a whole, the Love Alive tour has been a comeback roar, boosted by a rotating cast of equally powerful women rockers in support, including Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow on select dates. Wednesday night featured Southern fried vocal dynamo Elle King and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the latter making for a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer two-for-one. Like Heart, Joan Jett helped kick down the door for women in the hard rock world, and the rock icon hasn’t lost her edge. We half expected the rock ‘n’ roll renegade to unfurl a pack of Reds from her sleeve after an attitude-drenched “Cherry Bomb” lit up the crowd.

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