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Even It Up - House of Blues, Dallas, TX

There are tribute bands for almost every group who has had a couple of hit records and most of them are pretty good. The very good ones get the audience pumped. The few great ones have studied intently and have a large following. Then there's Even It Up.

The Heart tribute band has perfected their show with vocals, music and looks to emulate the Wilson sisters in every way. Then, to add Roger Fisher, original guitarist and founding member of Heart to the show, made this a must-see event at House of Blues – Dallas.

After opening performances by Faux Collins and Q – The Music of Queen energized the packed venue, Even It Up came on stage to a tremendous round of applause. Kristy Johnson as Ann Wilson opened with “Bad Animals” the crowd knew they were in for a tremendous night.

Johnson immediately moved into '”Even It Up” and people jumped to the music. Her beautiful voice, and beautiful looks, engaged the crowd who showed their appreciation in return. Casey Nicole, as Nancy Wilson followed with a beautiful rendition of “These Dreams” as the 1985 video showed on screens on both sides of the stage. Myra Ditmore, an interpretive dancer, added another art form to the song.

The musicians, led by guitarist Phil Scholling with hot licks on a solo, complemented Kristy’s voice on “Who Will You Run To.” The crowd contained many fans decked out in their best 80s clothes and many of them rose and danced to the powerful “Never.” Casey high kicked during the song to match Nancy's high kick in the video.

The group played a lesser-known song in “There's The Girl” from the Bad Animals album and brought it to life for those who haven't heard it in several years. Myra came back out in cape lined with lights to simulate a butterfly and the crowd roared as they knew “Dog And Butterfly” was coming next. The band performed it beautifully and many women in the audience gasped at the 70s hairdos in the video that played.

Kristy Johnson hit every note perfectly for “Heartless” as the band jammed along with her. The refrain was a singalong in the venue as everyone knew it by heart. Thomson then slipped into the audience to sing “What About Love” and was surrounded by fans who sang it word-for-word. Onstage, Scholling drilled a scintillating solo that completed a terrific song.

Back to the stage for “Straight On,” Kristy and Casey shined while Glenn Johnson and Brian Fulenwider joined Scholling for a three-man guitar front that absolutely rocked. Another deep cut touched the crowd as they played “Mistral Wind,” a beautiful song with great lyrics that stirred the emotions of many fans.

Casey switched to acoustic to begin “Crazy On You” as Roger Fisher came out to a huge hand. He electrified the stage with energy just as he did in the early days and the fans went wild. Everyone shined as Pat Calabrese pounded a heavy beat on the drums and all four guitarists lined up for a four-man jam that rocked the crowd.

Fisher then told the story of “Magic Man” and how it was written about his brother, Michael, who was in a romantic relationship with Ann. He then played a lead-in riff to the song and he and Paul complemented each other with solos to earn a huge ovation from the fans. Casey lined up with the guys for a five-person guitar front for “Barracuda” and the jam enlivened the raucous crowd.

Kristy then said she cut off her fingernails for the first time in 25 years as she grabbed a guitar and Casey played the mandolin for “Battle Of Evermore.” as Heart always pays tribute to the influence they received from Led Zeppelin in their concerts. They segued into snippets of several Zeppelin songs, ending with “Rock 'N Roll” as Calabrese rocked the kit in classic John Bonham fashion. A choir then came onstage as they ended the night with “Stairway To Heaven” As always, Kristy nailed the vocals and the audience responded with a standing ovation.

If you enjoy Heart, you'll love going to see Even It Up. Kristy Johnson has a voice so similar to Ann Wilson and Casey Nicole sounds and plays just as if Nancy Wilson was on stage. It's a treat to hear them as well as see them.

Thanks to House of Blues – Dallas for their hospitality. The acoustics were perfect for an amazing show!


Review by David Simers - JAM Magazine

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