Heart Worshipped and Rubbed on the Spirit of Rock n Roll At The Hollywood Bowl Heart and Joan Jett rock the Hollywood Bowl
HOLLYWOOD, CA- Anyone who knows me, knows I love me some 80’s rock and I’m especially fond of all the influential female rockers who emerged from that era. So, when I saw the announcement for the Heart “Love Alive” tour featuring Joan Jett, you bet my little 80’s loving heart skipped a beat. (Yes, I’m aware that both artists rose to prominence in the 70’s but being an 80’s baby, that’s the decade I tend to associate them with most). As a kid, I grew up on Heart, idolized the sh*t out of Jett (still do), and opener Elle King’s style is definitely something I can vibe with. There was no way I was missing these rock goddesses when they stopped by the Hollywood Bowl on September 9th.
On top of the billing being superb, there was also a lot of buzz surrounding the tour, as it was the first one since the public fall out between sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. The dispute that broke out in 2016 wasn’t just a little family feud, it was a pretty serious incident. Thankfully, they managed to patch things up- at least enough to tour again- and continue on doing what they do best, together. It was clear that the crowd was eager to see the reunion of their favorite hard-rocking sisters as much as myself.
Even though the show was on a Monday night, the fans still came out in droves. Hollywood traffic was even more insane than usual. My friend and I left with what we thought would be ample time to get to the venue, park, grab a drink and catch Ms. King- but alas, we were majorly traff*cked and sadly we missed all of King’s set. (Boo!) The upside to our trek to the bowl was all the fun people watching. I spotted a few women sporting some nostalgic 80’s type of outfits (hello spandex) along with hair so big it was definitely full of secrets! I couldn’t determine if it was their regular ‘do’ or if they busted out the Aqua Net for the special occasion- either way, I loved it! There were also a lot of younger fans in attendance than I expected. It was nice to see different generations sharing their love for these legends. That’s what I call great parenting (or maybe even grand-parenting in this case) skills- introducing your kids to good music!
Luckily we beat the traffic right in time for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Damn! What can I say about Jett that has not been said before? She’s iconic! She’s Joan f*cking Jett! I don’t know if there exists a more badass female rockstar! Seriously, she just exudes coolness with everything she says and does. 60 years old and she is still THEE Queen of Rock! The crowd welcomed Jett and the band with hoots and hollers so loud, if you didn’t know better you’d think she was the headliner.
The legend, who was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of fame a few years ago, strutted on stage and got the night started with a bang, opening the set with “Victim of Circumstance.” She continued to rock the crowd with songs that spanned her 40 plus year career, including songs from her days with The Runaways when Jett was just a teen. The sing-along anthem “Cherry Bomb” came early in the set and had the crowd up on it’s feet. The only other original Blackhearts member accompanying Jett was keyboardist Kenny Laguna, who told the audience a story behind the song “Fake Friends.” In short- many moons ago, no one was interested in a female-fronted punk band so the band had to release their music independently. When their album became a hit, all the people who weren’t there for them, in the beginning, were now their biggest fans and they suddenly had tons of friends. Laguna said there were some people who were always supportive from the start and they always remembered those people, the ‘real friends’. Heart happened to be amongst some of those real friends. “Ann and Nancy were particularly nice to Joan when we were nothing; when we were scraping.” ( Wow, four decades of friendship between Heart and Jett- I think that qualifies for what the kids nowadays call #squadgoals).
Jett’s hour-long performance was full of energy and she kept the crowd engaged with a killer setlist! The only song that, in hindsight, I could’ve done without was the Gary Glitter cover “Do You Wanna Touch Me” because of the cringe factor that comes into play when you think about who it was written by. (Glitter was charged with multiple counts of child sex abuse.) Jett’s delivery of the song makes it feel like an original so it’s easy to forget it’s not her own, which she is particularly good at doing, considering nearly half her set is technically covers. Still, with all things considered, perhaps it’s time to retire that song cuz- ew!
Highlights of the set included the angsty rocker “Bad Reputation,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Light of Day,” a punk rock version of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song “Love is all Around,” the dynamic cover of Tommy James & The Shondell’s “Crimson and Clover,” the fist-pumping “I Love Rock N Roll,” (also a cover that, let’s be real, no one associates with The Arrows- sorry guys) and my personal favorite “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” All in all, Jett proved that she still has it and was the perfect act to set the tone for Heart’s epic set of classic rock.
Heart took the stage and the anxious crowd went wild. The sisters looked fantastic and their energy towards one another showed zero signs of tension. They opened the night with the psychedelic jam “Rockin’ Heaven Down” followed by the 1975 hit “Magic Man.” Umm, hello big vocals! Wow, that Ann has got some powerful pipes on her!! Damn, Gina! I was so impressed with how great Heart sounded, especially considering how long they’ve been doing this now. When I sing along and attempt to hit those high notes, I sound like a dying cat! (And my sincere apologies to anyone who watched my Instagram story to get a glimpse of the show and had to suffer through those dying cat vocals of mine.)
The songs sounded as big and bold as ever. Just a few songs into the set and I was completely in awe. The vocals were pitch-perfect, the band was rockin’, Nancy looked cool as hell as she shredded away on the guitar and sometimes when Ann wasn’t singing her ass off, she was killing it on the flute. I mean, is it really fair to have that much talent in one family?!
Early on in the set, Ann addressed the crowd sincerely:
“Thank you for coming each and everyone, big shout out to Joan Jett &The Blackhearts and Elle King. We have a big thing planned for you tonight. Here in this program, we’re gonna take you all through the decades, you know- kinda tell you about our story and just basically come and worship and rub on the spirit of rock n roll.”
And worship and rub they did. Along with playing many of their most cherished songs, Heart paid tribute to some of the musicians who inspired them over the years. The first cover of the set was a fantastic version of the 1971 Yes song “Your Move.” Other covers that came later on in the night included “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” and an epic “Stairway To Heaven” that could arguably be called the best cover of the Zeppelin classic to date.
About halfway through the night, Nancy had her turn to shine on lead vocals for the 80’s hit “These Dreams.” The soft song had the crowd swaying along. During this song, I was reminded of the now-classic, and very 80s, music video where Nancy (sporting extremely big, teased hair) sings over a pool of water and plays guitar surrounded by hands that reach out from the ground to grab her. And people wonder why I love the 80’s so much- the cheese factor was almost as good as the actual talent. You just don’t get that kind of video (or talent) nowadays!
Other songs played that got the crowd going included the 80’s hit “What About Love,” the 70’s banger “Crazy On You,” and the powerhouse, monster ballad “Alone” blew everyone away. Did I mention that Ann can sing?!! Woo-wee! Gave me chills! The epic night ended with the obvious final song, the one we all came to hear….ooooh… “Barracuda!”
What a fantastic show! Time and time again, Heart has proved that women can rock with the best of them! This show was one for the books!