By Emily Colero
On Sunday, rock and roll legends Heart along with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts brought their Queens of Sheba tour to the Sony Centre. It was the second last show of their Canadian leg of the tour.
Upon hearing the title of the tour “Queens of Sheba” I took to some quick Google research to discover the meanings behind this intriguing title. I discovered several different meanings associated with the title. What are Ann and Nancy Wilson telling us with this tour title?
Well, Queens of Sheba is a biblical reference referring to a queen who visits Soloman in the Old Testament. “Queens of Sheba” is also defined by Urban Dictionary as “a girl who believes she is better than you, not perfect, but better than YOU.” They also tag the word “superstar” to “Queen of Sheba,” so this definition seems solid. How else could we define Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts other than ground-breaking superstars? No, rock stars. That’s more accurate.
The Mandevilles, from Niagara Falls, opened the show with powerful vocals. They are composed of singer Serena Pryne and her guitarist Nick Lesyk. Pryne has a raspy rock and roll voice that makes you want to bob your head along. The Mandevilles did a fantastic job pumping up the crowd for the first act of the evening, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
As the “show is starting” bells dinged stragglers ran to their seats, anticipating the rocking and rolling that was sure to come. Joan Jett, clad in a red shiny jumpsuit and a leather jacket, burst onto the stage belting “Bad Reputation.” the crowd jumped to their feet and sang along. She then seamlessly flowed into her first band The Runaways‘ massive hit “Cherry Bomb” that debuted 40 years ago. Jett’s voice has the exact adrenaline rush punch that makes you want to go back in time to your rebellious youth.
Jett’s set list included her famous covers, “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, “Crimson and Clover” and “I Love Rock and Roll” as well as “Light Of Day”, a song written by Bruce Springsteen for the movie Jett starred in with the same title. Jett said the song was about “circumstances you don’t like, but you’re trying to get to another place”.
When Jett dove into “You Drive Me Wild” she confessed that this was the first song she ever wrote and that her “6 or 7 year-old sister was looking at her cross eyed” while she was doing it. As the band finished the set with a cover of “Everyday People” and took a bow fans didn’t have much time to process the amazing set before rock and roll legend Heart was up next.
After Jett’s hour-long set, the crowd was pumped up and ready for the second half of the amazing double-bill, the Wilson sisters, to take the stage. Amidst loud cheering and whistling Heart come onto the stage diving straight into hit “Magic Man”.
Heart sounds better than anything you can imagine. Ann and Nancy Wilson’s voices are crystal clear with a world-class vocal range that shocked even the biggest fans in the room. Sounding better than your favourite Heart vinyl (if you can imagine that). The energy in the room was explosive.
Heart played all of their hits, “Alone,” “Straight On,” and “What About Love” while the sold-out crowd engaged in a massive sing-a-long. Mixed in with the classic Heart hits were more recent songs such as “Beautiful Broken,” Ann Wilson described the song as when “… everything’s perfect, but you’re crazy”.
Previous to “Even It Up” the Wilson sisters talked about starting their band in Vancouver in the 70’s and how although there were few women doing rock music at the time the sisters “ rarely felt shy asking for more.” Ann Wilson took the time to thank fans for being the “coolest fans ever.” A vocal fan from the audience joked, “they’re old!” Ann added she also loved how Heart fans are “loyal” and “non-violent”.
The band continued to introduce their songs with background stories. Before leading into “These Dreams”, the sisters confirmed a theme of many of their songs, “We’re here to sing about love, all different types of love.” Heart closed up with massive hits “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda,” ending on a strong note. As the opening strings of “Crazy On You” poured through the room, the cheering got louder and louder, this was clearly the most anticipated song of the evening.
For the encore the crowd was treated to three Led Zeppelin covers, “Immigrant Song,” “No Quarter,” and “Misty Mountain Hop,” while Led Zeppelin symbols danced around on the screen. There’s no question that Zeppelin is not an easy band to cover, but Heart always does it flawlessly. Ann Wilson and Robert Plant have many vocal similarities that make Heart covers of Zeppelin a real dream come true.
So was “Queens off Sheba” an accurate title for the tour? Absolutely. Whether it’s interpreted as “rock stars”, “better than you,” or “superstars,” both Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are all that and more.