Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heart - Night At Sky Church

Night At Sky Church
Legacy Recordings/Shock Entertainment

Although the years between their studio releases has grown over time, it hasn’t meant that the Seattle based rock outfit Heart have shown any signs of slowing down, with the Wilson sisters (Vocalist Ann Wilson and vocalist/guitarist Nancy Wilson) still maintaining a strong live presence on stages year in/year out; proving the pair still know how to rock. Following hot on the heels of the release of their highly acclaimed thirteenth album ‘Red Velvet Car’ from last year, Heart have put together a new live D.V.D. in the form of ‘Night At Sky Church’, which was filmed last March at Seattle’s Experience Music Project in front of a sold out hometown crowd.
Despite having already released a couple of live D.V.D.’s in the last decade (2003’s ‘Alive In Seattle’ and 2007’s ‘Dreamboat Annie Live’), ‘Night At Sky Church’ showcases a different side to what many have come to expect from Heart, with the band (Who aside from the Wilson sisters include guitarist Craig Bartock, bassist Kristian Attard, keyboard player Debbie Shair and drummer Ben Smith) maintaining a fine balance between their more acoustic influenced direction of their early and latter years, and the more hard rock sound they had in the years in-between.
The concert gets off to an energetic and decidedly heavy rocking start with the classic ‘Barracuda’. Ann Wilson has lost nothing on the vocal front, while Nancy’s prowess on the six strings still sounds as biting as the original recording some three decades ago.
The semi-acoustic reworking of their 1985 hit ‘Never’ easily allows the song to shine as something special early in the set, while tracks such as ‘Love Alive’, ‘Mistral Wind’, ‘What About Love’, The Lovemongers’ ‘Sand’, ‘Alone’ and ‘Crazy On You’ are all given a similar reworking in semi-acoustic form with amazing results.
In the lead up to the release of their new album ‘Red Velvet Car’, the band debuted new tracks such as the heavy and rocking anthem ‘WTF’, ‘Hey You’ (Which features a guest appearance from the album producer Ben Mink on guitar) and the moody and blues sounding ‘Red Velvet Car’. Elsewhere, Alison Krauss shares a bit of the spotlight with her performance alongside the band on the beautiful ‘Safronia s Mark’ (Which is also a new track from ‘Red Velvet Car’), ‘These Dreams’ and a cover of Doc Watson’s ‘Your Long Journey’ (Which Alison Krauss covered with Robert Plant on their ‘Rising Sand’ album from 2007).
Toward the end, Heart bring the show to a close much in the same way they started out, with ‘Straight On’ and ‘Magic Man’ given the full electric treatment.
In terms of bonuses, ‘Night At Sky Church’ doesn’t have much to offer apart from a stunning rendition of ‘Back To Avalon’ and a full-on version of ‘Kick It Out’, both of which I assume didn’t quite fit the feel of the show overall, and therefore were put aside.
Although a little lacking in extras department, ‘Night At Sky Church’ is still an absolute treat for fans, with the concert visually stunning in terms of its editing and overall lighting (The constant changes in lighting from the backdrop really does enhance the show throughout), and captures the very essence of Heart’s powerful performance in front of their enthusiastic hometown crowd. In short – unlike a lot of bands of their era, Heart still have what it takes to put on a killer show.

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© Justin Donnelly