Heart @ PNE Summer Nights – August 18th 2012

Yesterday was the 102nd opening day of the Pacific National Exhibition, better know as the PNE. It was a toasty 25 degrees, and the masses swarmed in like a sea of hungry locusts.

This year saw a few additions to the Vancouver mainstay. The two most notable were the inclusion of a Star Trek exhibit and the addition of the Family Feud live game show. Besides these slight changes it was business as usual. Which means consumers were out in rampant force, buying as-seen-on-tv like products and consuming less-than-healthy snacks.

I happened by the food pavilion and dabbled in some tasty treats, a couple bites of deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried pop-tarts and a delectable morsel of maple bacon covered funnel cake. It wasn’t my finest hour, but I was glad for having tried them, they were sinfully delicious.

With all the lights, and movement, and action, and smells going on I nearly forgot why I had come in the first place. I was here for the PNE Summer Nights concert series, to check out Heart.

Being a child of the 80s I get much pleasure from hearing two songs by this band; Barracuda and Crazy On You. They were staples on any mix tape I created in my youth. Over the years they have both appeared as perfect backdrops for many a memorable movie. They were part of that anthemic soundtrack that was my childhood.

I have had a few chances to see the band throughout the year, but have always found roadblocks in my path. I wanted to hear Ann Wilson power through one of those songs. I just felt like it would be something that I would really remember, something special. But after failing at many attempts to see them, it faded away and I lost that drive.

When the sun started to set last night, and the lights to the PNE Summer Nights stage lit up, I felt a little spark inside myself. Then when the band stepped out on stage and I saw Ann and her sister Nancy, I was instantly giddy.

It was a strange feeling at first but soon it felt soothing.

The group powered through pieces from their catalog. Ann’s vocals were strong, and steady. I was taken back in time. It was magical.

The culmination of the evening, for me, was the span of the last two songs leading into the break just before the encore. They played both of those long-awaited tunes I was looking for. First they drenched the night air with an electric installment of Crazy On You. I looked around the audience and saw an entire mob of people, both young and old, singing in full force. I too was swallowed by the hype and was screaming the lyrics – “Let me go crazy on ya!”.

The crowd was pulsating with a beautiful intensity. The group then plowed forward into Barracuda. The rendition had this power behind it, and that sexy screech. Ann and company delivered it with a little piss-and-vinegar. Once more I looked around and was a part of a giant sing-a-long.

The band filtered off the stage after a quick thank you.

I sat there and watched as the crowd demanded the bands return. Screaming and hollering for an encore. It would have been silly for Heart to have left the night with such a hungry mob. So they returned to what seemed like an actual impromptu encore. The cheers from those around me subsided as the band started back up. The rest of the night faded off.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well Ann Wilson worked her vocal range. Obviously she isn’t 100% of what she once was but there is now a certain maturity and control that she didn’t have before. I felt at times she pulled some of her punches, unable to attain those high notes of yesteryear but she made up for it in drive and control.

Heart won over the crowd quickly and hand fed them for the rest of the night. The area surrounding the stage was heavily congested. More so than any other act I have seen at the PNE Summer Night series in the past.

I want to say thank you to the group. Ann and Nancy, you made this fans night. I would gladly see you guys kill it anywhere.

Photos © Annastasia Fairbanks

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