In June of this year, Heart played with an orchestra for the first time in a career spanning over 40 years, and they did it with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at The Royal Albert Hall in London, England.
The 1080 video captures the beauty and majesty of the historic building and also provides plenty of close-ups so you can see how good Ann and Nancy Wilson still look, as well as see the rest of the band and the full sweep of the orchestra. The camera captures many blissful faces in the audience too.
The sound is terrific, although a quick online perusal discloses that a few audio fanatics with high-end systems were disappointed with the HD sound on the Blu-ray, which is 48/16 like a regular CD instead of the Hi-res Blu-ray standard of at least 48/24. But for my standard sound system and new smart TV, the sound is full and clear and easily reflects the Royall Albert Hall’s famed acoustics.
The concert features 16 songs, which are a combination of crowd favorites, lesser-known songs from Heart’s career, and new songs from their most recent album, Beautiful Broken, released in July. One wonders why it took them so long to record with an orchestra, as Ann Wilson’s voice easily soars above 68 backing musicians and the songs are well-suited to this treatment, especially the ballads.
The sisters are just as versatile and powerful as they have ever been, moving easily from their dreamy, mystical numbers like “Dreamboat Annie” and Ann Wilson’s delicate vocal on “Alone” to (other) power ballads such as “These Dreams” to the heavy rockers like “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You,” and “Barracuda.” Then there is the utterly riveting version of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” which was for this writer the definitive proof that Heart still is one of the best rock groups ever, while not restricted to that genre.
Do not miss the bonus “Interviews” material, which in addition to talks with the Wilson sisters offers stunning views of the hall, discussions between Heart and orchestra conductor Nick Davies, and rehearsal footage.
This was a perfect match of group, orchestra, and venue, a magic night superbly captured and, to this writer, totally worth obtaining on Blu-ray.
This article was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.