||HEART, JOAN JETT AND CHEAP TRICK KICK IT OUT IN DALLAS THREE FOR ALL
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas, TX, 18th August 2016
The new inductees to the Rock And Roll Of Fame have taken to the road to show exactly why they are worthy of that accolade. A lot of people, me included, take the whole HOF set-up with a pinch of salt as being not really that meaningful but if it results in line-ups like tonight then I'm all for it.
For a girl who is zero country and 100% rock n' roll, and whose temporary home is the cowboy focused Fort Worth, Texas, seeing this line-up in the city right next door was a no-brainer. Billed as Rock Hall Three For All, the triple bill was mouth-watering considering how rarely these bands play the UK.
Heart were over for a mere three dates a few weeks ago, their first since 2004 and aside from a small showcase in 2013 Joan Jett last toured the UK in 2010 and Cheap Trick haven't been back since 2011.
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The Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas is an open air venue, with some covered seating at the front and with the Texan summer heat registering 29 degrees and raining, the perfect hot and sweaty gig environment was created without having to cram into a dingy basement somewhere. And the heat wasn't a problem as you can get frozen margaritas on tap, served in guitar shaped glasses so I was sorted.
Just after 6.30pm the announcement from backstage declared: "This is the best fucking rock band in the world," and Cheap Trick got the party started. The crowd were out of their seats straight away with everyone up for a good time.
Robin Zander was oh so pretty back in the day and by Odin, he's still got it. Resplendent in a cream coloured top hat and sparkly jacket and leather trousers, the vocal talent that influenced a generation is still as much in evidence as his looks.
Rick Nielsen, in suit and baseball cap and series of novelty guitars has a larger than life presence too but it was the songs that really stood out. Packed full of hooks, melody, glam, hard rockin' and plenty of boogie, this was one great rock show where the music talked the loudest of all.
'Big Eyes', 'The House Is Rockin'', 'The Flame' and 'Dream Police' were all standouts and 'No Direction Home' from recent album 'Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello' sounded great too. Bassist Tom Petersson took the mike for a cover of Lou Reeds 'Waiting For The Man' that was truly astounding.
If the show had ended there I would have been more than happy, but there was plenty more to come.
With barely time to get a refill of margarita, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were next up. Joan has been a bit of a hero of mine since the 80s and this was my first time seeing her live. She is tiny but a complete powerhouse, her East Coast twang much more pronounced in the vocals than on record and this was an instant transportation back to the days when glam met punk.
A career-spanning set from the early Runaways classics through to tracks from 2013s 'Unvarnished', this was a full immersion into great guitar-based rock. Joan embraced the heat, asking for the fans on stage to be turned off so she could sweat with the rest of us, saying that if she was cold her energy would close down and that would be no good.
The Blackhearts were a great backing band but apart from confirming they played brilliantly I haven't got much else to say about them as frankly all eyes were on Joan for pretty much the whole time. The only exception was when Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC joined her on stage for a duet of 'Reality Mentality' wearing a classic Motörhead England shirt. Great touch.
Every song in the set was an opportunity to sing along and rock out and it's hard to choose highlights but 'Bad Reputation', 'Crimson And Clover' and 'Fragile' really hit the spot.
The rocking continued with Hearts set which gratifyingly leaned towards the heavier side. A powerful opening duo of 'Wild Child' and 'Magic Man' created the enchantment and held us there with barely a dip. Ann and Nancy Wilson and the band looked and sounded fabulous and hardly a wrong note was struck.
It's the rocking numbers where they really shine, 'Bebe Le Strange' in particular being jaw-droppingly good, although there is no doubt that the power ballads are incredible and moving. This was a rock crowd in the mood for a party tonight though, as the proliferation of Iron Maiden and Motley Crue shirts suggested. Ann Wilson was up for this too and declared that "some people think the rules of rock don't apply to them and they can sit on their butts" before launching into a high octane 'Kick It Out'.
Heart are known for their Led Zeppelin covers but the videos I have seen to date were not a patch on witnessing them in the flesh and understanding the power and the emotion that Ann Wilson brings to these tracks. During 'Immigrant Song' the backdrop was full of Viking ships and old maps of the Celtic lands which brought a real connection to home.
For 'Stairway To Heaven' it was abundantly clear why Jimmy Page cried during that famous clip. I did too, a little bit. Chills, and a profound resonance with the lyrics that I've never had before – a true magic gig moment.
Any one of these three different but fantastic acts were worthy of headlinimg. The only low point was despite the large amount of plectrum throwing from the stage I didn't get a single one. Still, no complaints from me whatsoever; what a night.
Cheap Trick Set List:
The House Is Rockin'
No Direction Home
Baby Loves To Rock
I'm Waiting For The Man
I Want You To Want Me
Joan Jett And The Blackhearts Set List:
Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
You Drive Me Wild
Light Of Day
Love Is Pain
I Love Rock n' Roll
Crimson & Clover
I Hate Myself For Loving You
Heart Set List:
What About Love
Bebe Le Strange
Kick It Out
Crazy On You
Stairway to Heaven