Benaroya Hall was never designed to look or feel like somebody’s living room, but to Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart it was the perfect setting for a laid-back Tuesday evening celebrating their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18.
Before morphing into an acoustic concert, the “Live @ Benaroya Hall” event began with an intimate conversation between the famous sisters and Charles R. Cross, Seattle-based author of the New York Times bestseller, “Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll” (and Seattle Times contributor).
Cross and the Wilsons — the two most powerful sisters in rock ‘n’ roll — sat at a small wooden table, surrounded by candles and vintage album covers. The conversation was relaxed and light-hearted, with hometown fans shouting comments.
The conversation provided revealing glimpses into the Wilsons’ past, beginning with life in a Marine Corps family and the discovery of the Beatles, whose music became an obsession. After retiring from the Marines, their father became a popular teacher at their Bellevue school, where he teased unruly boys that he was “a trained killer” and someone not to be messed with.
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The sisters played short pieces of music, such as the rarely performed Ann Wilson song, “Through Eyes of Glass,” which she wrote as a teenager. “They were phonies,” Ann quipped about the imaginary couple in the song. “My job was to bust them.” The tune demonstrated Ann’s early flair for song craft.
Cross picked anecdotes from the book to illustrate the sisters’ experiences in the male-dominated world of rock ‘n’ roll. Early in her career, Ann performed a favorite song, the Who’s “See Me, Feel Me,” in front of an all-male crowd — and was unpleasantly surprised by the reaction.
Cross persuaded the sisters to sing “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You,” the 1990 Heart single about a twisted one-night stand written by veteran songwriter and producer Robert “Mutt” Lang. “We needed a hit really bad at the time,” Ann admitted. “It wasn’t until later that the lyrics really began to gross me out.”
The concert portion began with a tender “Dreamboat Annie,” followed by “Angels” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Save the Life of My Child.” “Rock Deep, Vancouver” expressed the anticipation and excitement of Heart’s beginnings in Canada.
The band included guitarist Craig Bartock, bassist Dan Rothchild, keyboardist Debbie Shair and drummer Ben Smith, a veteran of the Seattle scene.
Nancy offered “Love Mistakes,” a tender song she wrote years ago about high school friend Kelly Curtis and a broken heart he suffered. (Curtis went on to become Pearl Jam’s manager.)
The Wilsons closed with an encore of two of sharply contrasting songs, the powerful “Even It Up” and the wistful “Dog and Butterfly.”
Gene Stout: firstname.lastname@example.org