October 2008

Soundstage Presents –  Heart Live
Koch Vision KOC-DV-6568
Format: DVD
Released: 2008

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Image Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

When Heart debuted in 1976, there were few hard-rock bands led by women. Ann and Nancy Wilson fronted a band that played rock convincingly, but with a pop-music touch that made them accessible and popular. When their sales began to drop in the mid-'80s, they rebounded with power ballads like "These Dreams" and "What About Love" and went on to sell more records than ever. Heart tours extensively (currently the band is barnstorming through the country with Journey and Cheap Trick), and on the evidence of this performance, which premiered on PBS’s Soundstage in 2005, the Wilson sisters give a solid evening’s entertainment.

Many of the songs here benefit from the energy of live performance. "Straight On" and "Kick It Out" have more grit and less gloss than they did in the original versions, and Ann Wilson’s voice has become more expressive with age. It may take a little more effort for her to hit the high notes, but that gives her singing more depth. The band takes a shot at three Led Zeppelin tunes on Heart Live, and they’re high points of the DVD. "The Battle of Evermore" is as mystical as any Zep fan could hope for, while "Black Dog" and "Misty Mountain Hop" show how much this band learned from its predecessors.

Director Joe Thomas keeps the camera moving a little too much, and he lights the entire room, which robs the performance of intimacy, but overall the DVD is quite watchable. The two-channel sound is clean and punchy and the 5.1 surround sound adds space between instruments and room ambience. The DVD includes an interview with the Wilson sisters.