What a way to kick off America’s Biggest Birthday Party, better known as Fair St. Louis. In the middle of one of the worst heat waves the region has ever seen (10 days in a row of temperatures at or over 100) and a major drought affecting most of the country, who could blame people for staying away from the sweltering Gateway Arch grounds with hundreds of thousands of other people?
On Wednesday’s kick off to the Fair St. Louis, people still attended the Fair in anticipation of watching the air show, always a crowd favorite, and the main event attraction for the evening; rock and roll legends Heart. During the day, in the intense heat, the crowds were sparse, but boy did they come out in time to check out Heart and the fireworks.
Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who have been rocking together for 38 years, closed out the first day with a free performance for a couple hundred thousand fans and fairgoers who braved the heat to check out a high voltage main stage attraction.
Temperatures dropped to a much more comfortable level once the sun went down, but Heart was just getting warmed up.
Kicking off their set with the classic “Magic Man”, “Heartless” and “What About Love”, Heart wasn’t about to succumb to the sweltering heat.
Ann’s vocals sounded stronger than ever. It didn’t matter if it was a timeless ballad like “Alone” or a new healthy rocking “Dear Old America”, Ann never wavered. Nancy was stellar on guitar and pounced around the stage, seeming to ignore the heat warnings that were issued.
The rest of the band (Debbie Shair – keyboards, Ben Smith – drums,
Craig Bartock – guitar and Dan Rothchild – bass) was tight and
provided a technically perfect accompaniment to each song.
The set was filled with their hits, and a few relatively obscure songs, with a few new songs sprinkled in to promote their new CD, “Fanatic”, which is set for release in October. They ran the gamut of each decade they have been around but focused on their heyday of the 70’s and 80’s.
In between each song Ann and Nancy spoke fondly about the military, reflected on some memories and reveled in the fantastic air show held earlier in the day. But make no mistake the focus was on the music.
Fans old and young swayed, rocked and sang along to highlights like “These Dreams”, “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda”.
They returned for a one song encore, a spirit driven cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop”, a dreamy way to segue into the fireworks display which started after the band left the stage.
Heart’s hot set established the standard for which the rest of the Fair acts have to step up to.
Main stage lineup for the remainder of the 2012 Fair St. Louis includes:
Friday: Third Eye Blind – 8PM
Saturday: Dierks Bentley – 8PM
1) Magic Man
3) What About Love
4) Even it Up
5) Straight On
6) Bebe le Strange
8) These Dreams
10) Dear Old America
11) Crazy On You
13) Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zeppelin cover)