American rock sensation Heart have had an on and off relationship with the world of music; they first rose to fame in the mid-seventies, only for their popularity to hit a low in the early eighties, but that didn’t stop them from coming back again and again. Their return to their hard rock and folk roots in 2004 with their album Jupiter’s Darling saw Heart come back as the group we once fell in love with, 2010’s Red Velvet Car was their first top 10 album in twenty years; now they return with a live album collection of traditional Christmas songs, some of their own hits and a few personal favourite have been thrown in also. With guest vocalists like Shawn Colvin, Pat Monahan (Train) and more it’s bound to be a blast!
The cheer from the crowd introduces the wondrous River, the powerful lead vocal belted by Ann Wilson, as well as Nancy’s harmonies, spread more icing over the top of the traditionally sweet Chrissy ballad; the group get their folk roots on for their rendition of Seasons, which was a smooth breath of fresh air. Nancy Wilson takes the lead with Rocking, a piano driven cover of the short and sweet yuletide number that transitions into the more upbeat Love Came Down At Christmas, which wasn’t delivered as stellar as the rest of the set so far; the reciting of the self-written poem On This Christmas Day proves a warm and humbling touch to the set, which made the experience all the more intimate. Richard Marx lends a helping hand with the Xmas lullaby All Through The Night, a collaboration worth every second of its entirety; Sammy Hagar joins the group on stage for a sing along of his original song All We Need Is An Island.
Sammy Hagar sticks around for a killer rendition of Santa’s Going South (For Christmas), the overall vibe of the cover is this rich warmth we desire from a Christmas sing-song; Train’s lead singer/songwriter Pat Monahan is the next guest to help deliver an awesome cover of the soulful Please Come Home For Christmas, his high vocal range and nasal tonality really helped to give the track more of a boost. The slow yet tantalising Remember Christmas was just right, you forget that Ann Wilson is in her sixties when you listen to that timeless voice of hers; vibrant cheers could be heard as Heart bring out one of their big heavy rock guns, Barracuda, the group’s signature song from way back in 1976 which is still as energetic on stage as ever. Their 1979 hit Even It Up also gets a play, reminding us of the force these girls were back in their hey day; they then go on to play a cover of the iconic Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin, and boy do they do the track some justice. To wrap up the set, the group and their guests flawlessly tackle Bob Dylan’s Ring Them Bells for their final hurrah.
The release of Heart & Friends: Home For The Holidays staples the group as one of the most desired to see/hear live, there is no denying after hearing this recording of their 2013 seasonal set that Heart still have it; the crowd were sounding just as entertained as the listener would have been, and their collaborations with their special guests really made the experience even more worth having. During this set Heart were as humble as the season they were celebrating, Christmas is the time for joy after all and the group had enough warmth and spirit to go round the venue and beyond; Home For The Holidays is a beautiful and harmonious offering from the iconic group.