Feature Photo courtesy Criss Cain
Nestled in the woods of this southern Atlanta suburb, the 2,500 capacity “The Fred” (as the locals call it) is an open-air venue that reopened in 1991 following renovations, and at the time was also rebranded in honor of Peachtree City’s former mayor, Frederick Brown, Jr. Having never been to this facility, I was impressed by the community atmosphere (half the crowd seemingly drove there in golf carts) and intimate environment. In fact, the orchestra space was filled with group tables where fans were “enjoying their wine and candles,” as joked by Wilson mid-set.
The last time I saw Wilson perform was over a decade ago in Los Angeles when Heart opened for Def Leppard in September 2011 at the now-demolished Gibson Amphitheatre. Simply put, the soon-to-be 72-year-old (her birthday is June 19) was stunning Saturday night.
With the summer sun mercifully beginning to set, The Amazing Dawgs took the stage to a capacity crowd at 8:00pm sharp with Wilson in tow. Donning a black shimmering dress and black jacket embroidered with a tiger on the back, the iconic Wilson launched into “Even It Up,” the first Heart single released in 1980 from the band’s fifth studio album, Bebe le Strange.
Made up of Tom Bukovac (guitar), Sean T Lane (drums), Tony Lucido (bass) and Paul Moak (guitar and keyboards), The Amazing Dawgs were musically tight and easily navigated through a number of Heart classics behind Wilson’s majestic voice, including “Love Alive,” “Little Queen,” and the band’s first top 10 hit, “Magic Man,” released back in 1976.
While Wilson certainly had a decades-long catalog of accomplished music to draw from, the first half of the evening also purposefully showcased some of the band’s newer tracks from their recently-released Fierce Bliss album, including “Black Wing” and “Greed.” Wilson also reflected that the 18-month COVID lockdown was actually a blessing in disguise, as it gave her time to focus and write. “Greed” (video posted below) and the completed but yet-to-be-released song “Rain of Hell” were both guitar-driven rockers that continued to highlight why Wilson is the “queen of rock and roll” as anointed by a group of screaming fans in attendance.
The 50-minute first act was rounded out by stellar covers of Jeff Buckley‘s “Forget Her” and The Who‘s “Love, Reign O’er me.” Anyone who has followed Wilson’s career knows that she’s never shied away from putting her stamp on selected covers or artists she respects.
Following a 30-minute intermission, Wilson and The Amazing Dawgs returned to the stage and broke into the familiar Heart tune, “Crazy on You,” which brought the crowd once again to their feet. The fans then settled into the second-half set, where the band ran through two additional covers by Steve Earle (“The Revolution Starts Now”) and Queen (“Love of My Life”), respectfully. The pre-encore evening was closed out with back-to-back Heart songs, including “Mistral Wind” and the ever-popular 1977 hit with familiar guitar chords, “Barracuda.”
After a brief exit, the band returned to the stage for their encore set, which kicked off with the 1978 Heart single, “Straight On.” The fans danced away and sang along in their seats during this performance, and remained that way while Wilson and team closed out the night with amazing back-to-back renditions of two famous Led Zeppelin songs, “Going to California” and “Black Dog.”
Peachtree City was gifted with a great Saturday evening of music, even if some of the fans on the way out were curious why Wilson didn’t break out some of the more radio-friendly ’80s hits like “Alone,” “These Dreams,” or “Never.” That aside, if you are looking for an enjoyable night out this summer, don’t pass on experiencing Wilson’s legendary voice along with her terrific band when they hit your town.
Photos courtesy Criss Cain
1.) Even It Up (Heart)
2.) Black Wing
3.) Love Alive (Heart)
4.) Little Queen (Heart)
5.) Magic Man (Heart)
6.) Rain of Hell
8.) Forget Her (Jeff Buckley cover)
9.) Love, Reign O’er me (The Who cover)
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