Ann Wilson brings Heart and soul to Celebrity Theatre show in Phoenix
Courtesy of Ann Wilson

Ann Wilson, the longtime lead singer for rock band Heart, wowed a full house May 23 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix where she presented two 40-minute sets filled with Heart hits and a dozen interpretations of rock and soul classics. Wilson is taking advantage of the fact that Heart is on hiatus to play shows that allow her to stretch out and apply her powerful voice to some of her personal favorites as well as to songs that have influenced her singing style. Appropriately enough, the show began with a take on the Who's “The Real Me.”

The first set found Wilson dipping into the Heart catalog for a roaring take on “Barracuda” which was performed with the same arrangement the original recording featured. But the first of many surprises that would play out during the show came with a take on the Heart hit “Crazy on You” where Wilson slowed the tempo and infused the song with soul, turning the lusty rocker into a smoldering torch song. Also played during the first set were the bluesy “Fool No More” and “Anguish,” two songs that Wilson wrote with band guitarist Craig Bartock and that have been released on her series of The Ann Wilson Thing recordings. A frenetic cover of the Jimi Hendrix standard “Manic Depression” closed out the first half of the show.

After a brief intermission the band returned without fanfare and launched into “A Million Miles,” a raucous cut from Heart’s lesser-known 2012 album Fanatic. From there Wilson sang some well-chosen covers including “I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move” originally by Yes, the Black Crowes hit “She Talks to Angels,” the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush duet “Don’t Give Up” and Eric Burdon & the Animals' “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place.” The run of covers culminated with a stunning take on the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” which garnered Wilson a standing ovation.

With the show coming to a close Wilson again turned to her Heart repertoire for an emotional take on “Alone” followed by the third cut in the evening’s homage to the Who, show finale “Love, Reign O’er Me.” Wilson returned for two encores which featured four covers: The Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” the Aretha Franklin chestnut “Ain’t No Way,” Ray Charles’ “The Danger Zone” and a slow and steamy take on the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic “I Put a Spell on You.” The stellar musicians that backed up Wilson were Bartock on guitar, Dan Walker on keyboards, Andy Stoller on bass and Denny Fongheiser on drums.

For more information on Ann Wilson go here. Also, see Ann Wilson June 8 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Upcoming concerts at Celebrity Theatre include:

June 27 – Ted Nugent

July 6 – Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers

July 21 – The Happy Together Tour featuring the Turtles

July 28 – Dwight Yoakam

Aug. 25 – Yestival featuring Yes, Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer

Sept. 22 – Jesse Colin Young and Martin Barre of Jethro Tull