Heart and Cheap Trick Rock Tampa

by Zane Ewton

Cheap Trick and Heart Live at Amalie Arena - Tampa, FL - Friday, April 26

Heart and Cheap Trick experienced similar career trajectories: legendary 1970s rock bands who bounced back in the 80s with big hit ballads who managed to survive the years (and a handful of life's challenges) by simply being great bands touring the world with a bag full of some of rock's most enduring songs.

If you've been near a radio at any point in the last 50 years, you've heard a lot of Heart and Cheap Trick.

The Royal Flush Tour is Heart's return to the road after several years and some family drama. Cheap Trick is never not in a town near you, proving a reliable opener for Ann and Nancy Wilson's band.

Taking the stage to "Bebe Le Strange," mined one of Heart's strengths: swaggering riffs and sharp lyrics. And then it was all hits the rest of the night.

There were '70s staples like "Magic Man," "Dog & Butterfly" and the set closer "Barracuda." There were '80s chart hits "Never," "Alone" and "What About Love?"

Heart has done something smart with their bombastic 80s hits. They've dialed down the synth (and the hair) but added some fresh touches like Ann playing mandolin during "These Dreams." It's a small thing but adds a touch of timelessness to a song that could have been trapped in 1985.

It's not news that the Wilson sisters are fans of Led Zeppelin. The influence varies from subtle to performing two faithful covers of "Going to California" and "The Ocean."

Another cover popped up in the middle of "Straight On" as the band slipped into David Bowie's "Let's Dance."

The nods to other bands, including a quick tribute to Eddie Van Halen from Nancy's solo album, makes the show feel like a celebration of rock and roll and the audience was eating it up.

There were a few instances of Ann Wilson not quite hitting those high notes or holding them as long as she once did, but she always went for it and the crowd was always there with love and support. She can still kill it in the lower registers and how she interprets the songs.

Nancy and the rest of the band (all newer guys) remain a muscular, strutting band that can slow it down with that acoustics around the kitchen table approach of songs like "Dreamboat Annie."

Cheap Trick kept it tight at a blistering 45 minute set. They went big and loud (but when do they not go big and loud?), leading off with "Dream Police" and running through "Big Eyes," "He's a Whore" and "Ain't That a Shame," leading into the big ballad, "The Flame."

The trio of songs to wrap up their time included the sing-a-long-arama of "I Want You to Want Me," "Surrender" and "Goodnight."

These two bands have toured together before, as recently as 2016 on a triple bill with Joan Jett, celebrating each act's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

You can't go wrong with these classic bands that can still deliver in a big way on a Friday night. They've been doing it for years and know how to get it done.

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