8 p.m. Thursday, August 27, at Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Fwy., 713-772-5900 or www.arenahouston.com.
Everybody knows Heart thanks to a handful of classic-rock radio staples, but few people consider the band much beyond "Crazy on You." While Heart's chart-toppers have firmly ensconced the Seattle-formed band in rock history as one of the first female-fronted hard-rock acts, their misleading radio presence also leads to a reductive impression of a very nuanced band. Even the group's early hits point to its subtlety and flexibility — sure, "Magic Man" matches propulsive power chords with powerful vocals, but it also tells a romantic tale of naiveté and passion, while Ann Wilson executes amazingly dramatic dynamic shifts, from a plaintive and insecure whisper to an impassioned scream. This is not a song written by girls trying to fit into the hard-rock boys' club, and throughout its career, Heart has maintained this dichotomy of loud, aggressive sounds paired with softness of both subject and execution. Many albums feature romantic, medieval-inflected folk ballads like Little Queen's "Dream of the Archer." Heart's embrace of hard rock might represent a watershed moment in the history of women in rock, but the rest of its catalogue proves that they had larger intentions. Heart wasn't out to break the mold, but to prove that there never was a mold to begin with.