Although the weather is fairly mild in Englewood, NJ this Saturday, August 26, 2023 evening, things are quickly heating up inside the Bergen Performing Arts Center auditorium as Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ann Wilson, 73, takes the stage with her band, Tripsitter.
Along with her sister, Nancy, Ann Wilson climbed the charts with the group, Heart, selling over 50 million records and earning four Grammy nominations. These days, Wilson performs with Tripsitter, a band featuring Paul Moak on guitar and keyboards, Tony Lucido on bass, Ryan Wariner on guitar, and Sean Lane on drums. Wilson’s album with Tripsitter, Another Door, is scheduled to be released late-September, 2023.
Inside the renovated BergenPAC auditorium, music lovers cheer as Wilson and Tripsitter open tonight’s set with “Even it Up.” With her powerful and iconic lyric soprano voice, Wilson sings, “I am the one who can please you, ain’t that what you said?” on this driving Heart rocker backed by Tripsitter’s jamming rhythm section.
After Wilson greets the crowd with, “My name’s Ann Wilson and this is Tripsitter,” she and the band perform “Ruler of the Night.” Sean Lane starts off by playing a funky drumbeat, Tony Lucido fills out the bottom by adding bass, and Ryan Warner and Paul Moak contribute scorching guitars to the mix. Soon, Wilson joins in singing with energy on this funky rocker from Another Door before playing a legato flute solo.
The crowd hoots and hollers, and Wilson and Co. follow up with another Heart number, the soft-rocker, “Love Alive,” where Wilson sings with emotion, “Ever since I was a baby girl/Wanted one thing most in this world/It was to keep my love — keep my love alive.”
Wilson addresses the crowd, explaining, “Tonight, we’re gonna mix the old with the new,” prior to acknowledging, “We wish we would have written this one.” Here, Wilson takes a seat as she belts out an inspiring vocal performance on John Lennon’s rock ballad, “Isolation.”
The crowd cheers and applauds, and Wilson and Tripsitter respond by playing Heart’s 1975 Top 10 hit, “Magic Man.” Music lovers sing along with Ann on the “Try to understand, try to understand/Try, try, try to understand” refrain of this rhythmic rocker before Paul Moak plays an electrifying guitar solo.
Wilson and the band follow up with another new song from Another Door, “This is Now.” Mystical keyboard sounds accompany Wilson as she sings “Let the darkness go/That was then, this is now” on this poignant ballad.
The sound of crunching guitars fills the air as Ann cries, “Constant craving/For one thing only/God, it stunned me/Take it from me!” on the rocking “Greed.” Then, explaining, “Back when we used to write songs, we used to write them like stories — which is true of this next song,” Wilson and Co. sail into Heart’s “Mistral Wind.” Revealing her tale of the sea on this moody ballad, Wilson is expertly accompanied by the Tripsitter musicians as colored lights shine over the crowd.
Following intermission, Wilson and her colleagues return to the stage and open Act II with “Tripsitter,” the dramatic opening song from Another Door. Moak rhythmically taps the strings of his guitar on this number which features an usual 6/4 feel before downshifting into a 6/8 meter prior to the effervescent conclusion.
The musicians follow up with “Rain of Hell” where drums crash, guitars screech, and Wilson intones, “The rain of hell irrigates the flowers/It runs red like rivers in the street,” on this dystopian hard rocker. Segueing into “Immigrant Song,” fans dance in the aisles as lights blink rapidly and Wilson’s voice shines as she wails on this brilliant Led Zeppelin cover.
The crowd screams in approval, and Wilson says, “During the pandemic when I was looking at my window wishing I could fly, I wrote this song called ‘Black Wing.’” After singing, “Black wing on highways of Heaven/Riding all the way back home” on this 6/8 rocker, Wilson plays a fluttery flute solo.
Music lovers hoot and holler, and Wilson wonders aloud, “What would happen if we all got rid of everything digital?” Blasting off into “Rusty Robots,” Wilson nods her head as she sings to the asymmetrical rhythm of this syncopated 6/4 rocker.
The crowd screams when they recognize the intro to Heart’s 1976 Top 40 hit, “Crazy On You.” Wariner, Moak, and Locido rock across the stage as music lovers sing along with Wilson on the song’s tempestuous “Crazy on you/Crazy on you” refrain.
Audience members respond with a standing ovation, and Wilson smiles as she says, “Thank you.” Concertgoers clap along in rhythm to the funky Heart rocker, “Straight On,” where Wariner and Moak are featured on a dual guitar solo before Locido plays a funky bass solo and the band segues into “Let’s Dance.” Here, Wilson puts her signature spin on this funky David Bowie cover as fans happily dance in the aisles and at their seats.
Music lovers are on their feet cheering as Wilson says, “Thank you all for coming tonight!” and she and the band take leave of the stage. Returning for an encore, Wariner and Moak play acoustic guitars and Locido plays a mini guitar on an unplugged arrangement of “Alone.” The audience stands and sings “How do I get you alone?” with Wilson on this radiant version of Heart’s 1987 #1 hit.
Moak trades in his acoustic guitar for a mandolin as the group segues into Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California.” Wilson and Co. sparkle on this folksy arrangement prior to concluding tonight’s show by donning electric instruments and blowing the roof off the house with their powerful performance of Heart’s 1977 Top 20 hit, “Barracuda.”
The crowd stands whistling and cheering, and Wilson says goodnight before she and the band take a well-deserved bow.
As concertgoers make their way out of the BergenPAC auditorium, several comment on tonight’s performance by Ann Wilson and Tripsitter. Remarks Steve from Oradell, “Ann Wilson has a fantastic voice — she sounds just like she did in the ’70s — and she’s 73 years old!” before adding, “And I like her new band, too. They play with such intensity!”
George from Kearny recalls, “I first saw Ann Wilson at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic in 1978, and she still sounds terrific!” prior to noting, “Her new band is really good, too. They perform with a tremendous amount of energy!”
Antoinette from Montclair contends, “I’ve been listening to Ann Wilson forever! I saw her with Heart back in the ’70s and then again in the ’90s with her sister, Nancy, when they performed as a duo at Great Adventure. Ann has always been one of my favorite singers, so I’m so glad I got to see her again at one of my favorite theaters, BergenPAC.”
Mike from Saddlebrook wholeheartedly agrees, prior to concluding, “This venue is not only unbelievable, but Ann Wilson’s voice is f#*king phenomenal!”
To learn more about Ann Wilson, please go to annwilson.com. For info on upcoming performances at BergenPAC — including Yes on October 1, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on October 15 — please go to bergenpac.org.
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