The Northwest’s own, homegrown Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, singer/songwriter Ann Wilson of Heart, performed her solo rock show to a full audience at the Emerald Queen Casino
Friday, Feb. 9. Wilson has been on hiatus from sister/music partner Nancy Wilson and Heart since October of 2016, doing “the Ann thing” while sister Nancy is busy with her new band, Roadcase Royale. Rock vocalist Ann Wilson performed a perfectly composed set list to showcase her familiar, dynamic soprano range while visiting a few Heart classics. A selection of cover songs, reflecting a diversity of musical styles, were peppered into the set.
Wilson came out of the gates strong, with her four-piece band hammering out “The Real Me,” “Barracuda” and “Crazy On You,” before slowing it down with some stripped-down versions of “What About Love” and “Fool no More.”
Wilson told a story of love and separation from a new relationship while being on the road in Australia. The result was the song “Anguish,” which she proceeded to sing. She then sang “A Million Miles” from the “Fanatic” album.
As a long time Heart and Ann Wilson fan, I was surprised and impressed with her performances of Yes’ “I’ve Seen all the Good People” and “She Talks to Angels” from the Black Crows.
Wilson also did The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Love Reign Over Me” before launching into one of her top hits “Alone,” which had the audience singing along.
Wilson’s encore songs included her version of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” which she features the well-known lyrics: “Stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.”
There was a jazzy rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t no Way,” Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” and Ray Charles’ “Danger Zone.” The latter was performed with just Wilson accompanied by her keyboardist.
As a music photojournalist, I was prepared to photograph the allotted three songs and leave expecting a diluted Heart show, like the kinds of shows we’ve seen from members of so many split-up bands. Instead I was enticed and tricked into staying for the whole show by the unexpected performances of Wilson’s Heart material and her wide range of cover tunes that touched on rock, jazz and blues. I believe I even heard some similarities to pop-country in the stripped-down versions of her music. Wilson’s voice deservingly belongs on the top of rock’s heap of most recognizable vocalists and maybe the top female rock vocalist.