By Regan Hardaway
Ann Wilson, one of rock’s most pioneering and talented women, brought hard rock back to life at the Charleston Music Hall on Wednesday March 22. She opened her show with the legendary “Barracuda” and then “Crazy on You”—the famous galloping guitar riff followed by her impressive melisma-heavy soprano vocals kicked off the night with a bang. “What About Love” had the audience feeling like they had gone back in time to 1985, as Wilson belted her powerful and recognizable voice clearly proving that she is as much of a bada** now as she was back in the day. Following the initial performance of some more popular tracks, she interpolated an entertaining balance of Heart classics, new own originals as a solo artist, and covers of age-old rock anthems.
The auditory senses were not the only ones being tended to either. The intimate theater was filled with lively visual effects, from colorful pulsating shapes and images to clips taken from old black and white films. The set’s aesthetic cues all paralleled each other—for example cool-colored lighting during slower minor-key songs like “Fool No More” that included jazzy qualities and electric blues overtones—which took the experience level for the audience to a whole new realm. Wilson herself commented on the mood in the Hall that night, saying, “I love this little theater; it’s so vibey, it’s got soul.”
Wilson’s personal hand in the performance was evident, as she told stories between songs and explained where her different inspirations came from. She lead into “Anguish,” from her new EP The Ann Wilson Thing! – #2, by describing the emotional weeks she spent in New Zealand while on tour apart from her soon-to-be husband. She then lightened the mood from her heavy rock feel with covers like “I’ve Seen All Good People” by Yes and Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” before breaking out another original “Don’t Give Up,” also from her new EP.
Ending her setlist with yet another Heart hit, “Alone” was the perfect power ballad to close the concert with. But after a well-deserved standing ovation, Wilson brought it back with a double encore, singing “Stop Children What’s That Sound” by Buffalo Springfield (which was accompanied by on-screen footage of the 2017 women’s marches), a rendition of Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” (a lovely choice that highlighted Wilson’s vocal talent outside the genre of rock), and lastly, her original song “The Danger Zone” from her 2015 EP. All in all, it was a rockin’ night with the Dreamboat Annie herself.