With Joan Jett and the Black Hearts and Cheap Trick
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Everyone and their mom was at Gexa Energy Pavillon on Thursday night. That’s not just a bad joke. (OK, it is a bad joke, but it’s not only a bad joke.) It was a night for the ages, rocking out with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Heart, Joan Jett and the Black Hearts and Cheap Trick.
Although most of the audience was there to relive the glory days, there was no shortage of young people there as well. Many families attended, including 19-year-old Natalie Rowland and her mom, Mindy Poteet. “This is our thing, going to rock concerts,” Poteet said. “We usually go see the bands I used to listen to as a kid. If you get in my car, I have [Sirius XM's] Hair Nation on and that’s it.”
It was the younger Rowland’s first time to see any of the three bands. “I grew up listening to them,” she said. “My friends make fun of me for being into this kind of music. They call me the '80s queen. Seeing Joan Jett is on my bucket list, so this is absolutely fantastic, especially getting to see her and Cheap Trick.”
Rowland wasn’t the only one checking off a bucket list item. Merisa Trevino was there with her friends, Chelley Johnson and Yvonne Coan, to see Heart, and this concert was 20 years in the making for her.
“I might cry,” Trevino said, with a laugh. “I’m telling you this is my childhood, and every time I’ve tried to see them something has happened or I was too young and my parents wouldn’t let me go. I’ve just never had the opportunity.”
Cheap Trick kicked things off while the crowd poured in. Even though it started raining halfway through their 13-song set, that didn’t stop people from packing out the lawn. On their way in, Terri and Rick Howett stopped to snap a photo to send to their son. “My son bought me these tickets for my 50th birthday,” Terri explains, saying she was most excited to see Heart. Although the night was for Terri, Rick wasn’t exactly disappointed about getting to see Cheap Trick.
Cheap Trick was worth the anticipation with their gaudy outfits, and guitarist Rick Nielsen kept things interesting with his rotation of bizarre-looking guitars. Frontman Robin Zander strongly resembled the White Rabbit in his Dream Police garb, which was perfect for their blast-from-the-past set list, which focused on the late '70s and early '80s. “California Man” was a crowd favorite and couples put their arms around each other and rocked and swayed to “The Flame,” right before things got rowdy with “I Want You to Want Me.”
Joan Jett and the Black Hearts came roaring out next. She started with some of the early songs that made her famous, “Cherry Bomb” and “Do You Want to Touch Me.” Despite being 57, Jett’s iconic leathery voice hasn’t aged a day. She stole the night with a powerful, high-energy performance that had the whole audience fist pumping and air guitaring.
Squeezed in the middle of her set, she played a couple of new songs, like “TMI,” which rails on people who share too much information on social media. It felt somewhat ironic as dozens of people across the arena watched her through their phone screens, but everyone was fully engaged by the time Jett belted out “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Crimson and Clover” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” The audience was on their feet and their voices rolled down the hill towards the stage.
Heart wrapped up the night and sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were as strong as ever. They rocked hard and were especially cognizant of the nostalgia aspect of the night. Images from the past flashed behind Ann as she reminisced. “A long time ago, when we first started this band, we were some of the only women who were doing it at that time,” she remembered, and the crowd cheered. “We had fans in another young female rock band who said, ‘If you guys can dare to do it, we can dare to do it.’”
Although most of their set list included their ever-popular '80s love songs (“We’re called Heart, so we do love songs of course,” Nancy proclaimed), they also introduced some new songs from their album Beautiful Broken. Towards the end, they played “Alone” and the crowd cheered every time 66-year-old Ann hit the high notes in her deep, powerful voice. She struggled a bit with the high notes in the popular “Barracuda,” but quickly redeemed herself with touching renditions of “The Immigrant Song” and “Stairway to Heaven,” which were made popular by Led Zeppelin in the early '70s.
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As the crowd shuffled out, two fans, Tiffani Marlow and Shela Campbell, gushed about getting chills during the concert. The night had come full circle for Marlow, who knew every word to Joan Jett’s lyrics. She says her very first concert was for Joan Jett and Cheap Trick. Although she doesn’t remember much of that night — “I mean, I was 12,” she says, laughing — last night was one for the books.
“It was really good,” she said. “Joan Jett still rocks badass.”