Stevie Nicks – Summerfest Review, July 2005

Nicks’ power isn’t fleeting – She makes most of her own show


July 4, 2005

Who needs Don Henley?

Stevie Nicks performs Monday night at the Marcus Amphitheater. The amphitheater was only half-full, but Nicks gave a full-scale performance in her Summerfest appearance.

Stevie Nicks, originally scheduled to co-headline a Summerfest show with her occasional duet partner, put on a heady “Leather and Lace” show all on her own Monday night at the Marcus Amphitheater. Alternating dreamy power ballads with utter rock-outs – including her first encore, a feisty run-through of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” -Nicks was more force of nature than mere front woman during a two-hour set. At a time when the women of pop music are too often stripper wannabes lip-synching to a song someone else wrote, Nicks’ classy and commanding presence felt like a revelation.

With her sleek blond hair and a succession of floaty, sparkly, mostly black outfits, Nicks’ appearance remained timeless, as did her voice. Her distinctive smoky alto was as powerful as ever, particularly on “Landslide,” final encore “Beauty and the Beast” and “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You,” a song Nicks dedicated to “all those kids who we’re going to help” after making a pitch to the audience to sign an online petition to end world poverty.

Nicks mixed signature hits from her time in Fleetwood Mac, such as “Rhiannon,” with unexpected gems that included a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “Circle Dance.”

But it was arguably the chunks of the set from her own successful solo career that packed the most power, including “Fall From Grace” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” with longtime guitarist Waddy Wachtel standing in for Tom Petty on the vocal duel with Nicks.

Despite an amphitheater that was barely half-full, Nicks and her nine-piece backing band never lagged in their energy or seemed in a hurry to get back to the tour bus.

Before the encores, the band riffed on “Edge of 17” for several minutes as a gracious Nicks shook fans’ hands and kissed one little girl in the crowd.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that little girl went home realizing chicks can write their own songs and rock out well into their 50s?

Self-possessed beyond her years and downright charming, opening act Vanessa Carlton overcame some early breathiness on set opener “Ordinary Day” to wow the crowd with a half-hour collection of songs, including the new “This Time.” Alone on stage with her piano, Carlton proved she has much more substance to offer than her vanilla hit “Thousand Miles.” Among the highlights was “White Houses,” a thoughtful reflection on losing one’s virginity – and a song deemed too risqué for booty-loving MTV, an irony Carlton noted during her tart introduction of the song.