They stare out from the frames like the moment was still alive and breathing, the best images at the "Who Shot Rock & Roll" show, which celebrated its opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City on Thursday night.
David Bowie circa early 1970s, in glorious starman costume and shot by Gloria Stevens, standing in front of an orange curtain in a hotel room, young and alien. Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn and the rest of Black Flag, caught by L.A. punk chronicler Ed Culver in 1980 causing a slam-dance frenzy during an early show. There was Janis Joplin in the late 60s, caught beautifully by Los Angeles chronicler Henry Diltz; and the four Ramones leaning against a brick wall, shot by Roberta Bayley and one of the great portraits in rock.
But one series of images was real: Ann and Nancy Wilson, founders of Heart, stepping onto a stage to perform a short set of classics while surprised and giddy fans watched wide-eyed in the crowd. The pair did songs to sing along to, including "Barracuda," "Dog & Butterfly," "Crazy on You," and "Even It Up." Touring in support of their all-encompassing new four-CD box set, "Strange Euphoria," the sisters, both playing acoustic guitars with a third musician adding more strum, brought sound to a show whose impact lies in photographers' abilities to represent sonics via a single, striking, silent moment.
At the media preview on Wednesday afternoon, a woman gazing at some of the photos spotted a friend -- who was sucking on Sly Stone's tongue -- in one shot from 40 years ago. "I went to high school with her!" she exclaimed, looking at Norman Seeff's great photo of Stone and then-wife Kathy Silva engaged in a kiss. "I wonder what she's up to now?" These intimate moments stretch throughout "Who Shot Rock & Roll."