Finally, it was Nancy Wilson’s turn — the younger sister in the rock band Heart — to speak Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center.
“This is one of the songs we grew up emulating,” she announced, noting that the entire family sang it together.
Then as Nancy plucked an acoustic guitar, she and Ann Wilson harmonized beautifully on Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.”
The tune seemed appropriate because, like childhood friends Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, the Wilson sisters became estranged three years ago.
Together in Heart since 1974, the two had a I’m-not-talking-to-you row after Ann’s husband physically assaulted one of Nancy’s teenage twin sons; the boy had neglected to close the door on Ann’s tour bus, as instructed. The sisters from Seattle finished their trek (and Ann’s hubby pleaded guilty), but things were never the same.
Ann made a solo album and toured under her own name with new musicians, and Nancy formed a band, Roadcase Royale, with Prince protégé Liv Warfield. Finally, this summer the Wilsons reunited for Heart’s 39-city Love Alive Tour, which wrapped up in St. Paul in front of 10,000 fans.
It was hard to assess the bond between lead singer Ann, 69, and rhythm guitarist Nancy, 65. They usually stood 12 feet apart and didn’t make eye contact during this low-frills (lasers and bubbles but no live video) 95-minute performance.
As they do every night, they introduced one another. Ann called the colorfully clad Nancy the goddess of color and talent, and the guitarist acknowledged “the impossibly wonderful and hard to describe, didactic yet jejune Ann Wilson.”
The puzzled rock queen retorted that she’d have to look up that description on Wikipedia, even though she probably meant dictionary.com.
So how was the music? Ann certainly sounded like that voice we’ve been hearing on KQRS for 45 years. She still has the caressing warmth, rangy emotionalism and sheer power that landed Heart in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Her voice seemed a little tired on an encore of Led Zeppelin’s vocally challenging “Stairway to Heaven” but the animated rocker can still summon her vintage vocal form — more so than, say, Stevie Nicks and Robert Plant, both of whom remain formidable but diminished.
She soared on the stratospheric ballads “What About Love” and “Alone” and killed it on rockers “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda,” “Even It Up” and “Straight On,” which was mashed up with the Motown gem “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”
Heart surprised with an inspired treatment of Yes’s usually cloying “Your Move,” rendered with three acoustic guitars, mandolin, accordion and hand drums, but misfired on their own ambitiously mystical “Mistral Wind,” which could have been titled “Stairway to the Space Needle.”
Featuring four brand-new instrumentalists and guitarist Craig Bartock, who joined in 2004, Heart sounded tight and professional, though most performed like studio musicians who were never meant to be seen.
At show’s end, Ann Wilson hugged Bartock. Then she finally faced her sister, gave her a firm embrace and hurried offstage, with lil sis trailing well behind her.
Preceding Heart was fellow Rock Hall of Famer Joan Jett, 61, who showed her timeless mastery of punk rock on the Runaways’ explosive “Cherry Bomb,” the defiant “Bad Reputation” and the snarling “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You.”
Like Heart, Jett and her band the Blackhearts relished playing covers. Two had Minneapolis connections — a speedy, minute-long version of “Love Is All Around” (aka “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme), first transformed into a punk anthem by Twin Cities rockers Hüsker Dü, and the Replacements’ ballady “Androgynous,” which she said “was written by a local, I believe.”