Sunday night was a perfect evening for a show at Blossom Music Center – perfect weather and a perfect pairing of acts that by the end of the evening would have the Blossom crowd dancing in the lawn. Elle King, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and HEART had control of the pavilion – and expertly worked the crowd into a joyous musical frenzy.
Opening the evening was country-tinged rocker Elle King – who quickly proclaimed her Ohio roots to the roaring approval of the crowd. Opening her set with the powerful, guitar-driven song Last Damn Night – Elle staked her claim at the first note. This lady can sing – with a voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin – Elle roared and growled her way through an electric, and eclectic 7 song set that touched on her two-album discography so far. She is out promoting her latest release Shake The Spirit which came out Fall of last year. The appreciative crowd loved it all but by far the biggest reaction came from her top ten hit from a few years back – Ex’s and Oh’s. She definitely left the crowd on a high note and certainly impressed this first-time listener.
Anticipation for Joan Jett was very high – an obvious NEO favorite – and they did not make the fans wait for long. The set change was quick and efficient and before most folks could hit the bathroom and reload with another beer – the Pavillion lights were going dark and Joan and her Blackhearts were running onto the stage. Playing in front of a giant Joan Jett and the Blackhearts banner – they kept their stage show just like their music, powerful and clean.
Joan and her band ripped into Victim Of Circumstance to open things up – then it was full speed ahead into Cherry Bomb – the hit from her years with The Runaways. The song has aged well and noticed a bit of a bump since it’s inclusion on the Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack.
The bands 14 song set hit all the highlights of Jett’s career – including the title track from the movies she did with Michael J. Fox – Light Of Day. It was great hearing the song again – hadn’t visited it in many years.
As you might expect though – the hits were what got the fans fired up the most. Do You Wanna Touch Me and Bad Reputation were early in the set favorites and got most of the butts out of the seats – few returned for the remainder of the set. The iconic rock anthem I Love Rock and Roll brought the house down but for me, the best song of the night by far was their take on the old Tommy James and the Shondell’s hit Crimson and Clover. I’ve always enjoyed the bands take on the classic song but hearing it live – it is phenomenal. Write this one down – hearing Joan Jett and The Blackhearts play that one live – put it on your bucket list. Just magical.
They wrapped things up with an inspired rendering of the Sly and the Family Stone hit Everyday People. The crowd loved Joan Jett – and for good reason – a strong solid set of wonderful rock and roll – played perfectly. If happiness has a soundtrack – it’s a live set of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Now time for the headliners – Ann and Nancy Wilson are back together and HEART was on the road for the first time in about 3 years. The Love Alive tour has been making its way around the country all summer and now it was Cleveland’s turn to relive the magic.
The band hit the stage to Rockin’ Heaven Down – an elegantly set stage exploding in color and the amazing voice of Ann Wilson echoing off the hillside. She still can give you goosebumps when she hits some of those notes – as one of rock music’s most recognizable voices, she possesses the power to lead you on a musical journey from which you don’t want to escape. Team that up with the guitar work of her sister Ann and then add in the rest of the veteran band and once again – we are living the things of rock and roll dreams.
Performing a 16 song set – featuring some interesting choices – and surprisingly leaving out some “mega-hits” the band led the crowd down the musical path of their career. Early in the set, they let loose with Magic Man which led into a cover of the Glady’s Knight and the Pips hit I Heard It Through The Grapevine, which transformed into their huge hit Straight On.
Another interesting choice was their performance of The Boxer – a wonderful version of the classic Simon and Garfunkel composition. The rest of the set highlighted the band’s illustrious catalog. These Dreams, Dog and Butterfly, Little Queen, What About Love – basically your favorite FM rock stations playlist.
Much to the approval of the fans – they ended the show with Crazy On You – which after all these years is still a powerful, rocking song. Coming back for the encore – they performed what was for me – the best moment of the night – not just their set but – the entire night as a whole. The band tore through an amazing arrangement of Stairway To Heaven – it’s really hard to find the correct word to describe how amazing they are playing this song. Just outstanding but – they weren’t done yet – not even close. Ann performed the hell out of Alone – just pure power and then the one everyone has been waiting all night for – the opening chords of Barracuda sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy – and it let everyone know the caliber of talent that they had been experiencing all night.
I was a bit surprised that they didn’t play Never – and really surprised we didn’t hear All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You – which I always considered to be one of their most popular songs.
Regardless – it was a monumental evening of classic rock that none in attendance will ever forget experiencing.