Stevie Nicks with Vanessa Carlton
June 24, 2005
Stevie Nicks’ latest concert is even `more witchy’ than some of her previous tours.
Nicks shows off `dark side’
Nicks’ “Gold Dust Tour,” making a stop at Borgata on June 30 and July 1, will have a touch of Vegas flash, thanks to the unlikely influence of Celine Dion and Elton John.
The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman originally designed her latest solo concert for a four-night stand in May at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, the 4,100-seat theater where Dion and John each perform on a massive 110-foot-wide stage.
“We watched Celine Dion — we don’t have 50 dancers. We watched Elton John — we don’t have 50 years of film … Elton filmed everything he did,” Nicks recalls of her first visits to the theater. “We said, `What in the world are we going to do?'”
The singer/songwriter and her team developed elaborate visuals, including images from one of her favorite films, Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of “Beauty and the Beast,” and her favorite artists, Sulamith Wülfing (for whom she named one of her beloved Yorkshire terriers), to create a “dark” show that’s even “more witchy” than previous efforts.
“The show we’ve come out with now is pretty amazing because of all that extra thought that went into putting it all together,” Nicks says. “If we hadn’t had the Vegas show, it would have been good, but it wouldn’t have been like this.”
Having warmed up with the Vegas gig, Nicks moved into a tour with Don Henley, with whom she recorded “Leather and Lace” on her 1981 solo debut, “Bella Donna.” The two played sets of their own material and performed several duets.
“I sang `Hotel California’ (and I thought) I lived through that,” says Nicks, who kicked off the joint tour on June 3 in Philadelphia. “Don and I went out when he was recording `Hotel California’ at the end of the `Rumours’ recording. We lived those words in `Hotel California.’
“I’m up there singing, going, `Oh my God, here’s my life.’ I couldn’t help but be somewhat groupied out. I was a little stunned every night at the amazing gift to be able to sing that song every night with an Eagle.”
When the tour was shortened to 10 dates due to Henley’s commitments with the Eagles, Nicks decided to schedule her own summer outing; originally she planned to take most of this year off after wrapping a two-and-a-half-year, 135-date tour with Fleetwood Mac last fall.
“It’s always interesting to leave the Fleetwood Mac world and come back into my own world,” she says. “`Gold Dust Woman’ is different in my world, and so is `Dreams’ and so is `Rhiannon.’ I always feel with these songs that it’s been a blessing for me to be able to go back and forth.
“We always go back and start from the original version with Fleetwood Mac and my band. But they always come out slightly different.”
In addition to those staples and hits like “Edge of Seventeen,” “The Chain” and “Stand Back,” Nicks has added to her set list some little performed gems, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You.”
“I’ve taken the French movie `Beauty and the Beast’ from the ’40s, which is the reason I wrote the song — we put (footage) behind me,” Nicks says. “It’s just stunning. I can hardly keep from bursting into tears … it’s so poignant when I’m singing it.”
Joining Nicks for “Circle Dance,” a Bonnie Raitt cover, will be her opening act, up-and-coming singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton, who’s touring behind her sophomore release, “Harmonium.”
“I’ve been friends with Vanessa for quite a while,” Nicks says. “Really, I think she’s one of the great ones. I want to take her on tour so I can put her in front of a lot of people, so people can see how great she is and remember that amazing first album.
“She’s a new artist … in this age of total chaos in the music business, if you don’t sell 10 million copies of your album, you’re just out of luck. It’s so hard. I want to do what I can to help her. I think she’s great. I think she’s one of those people who will still be around in 30 years when I’m dead. I want some of these women to not give up. We need them.”
Having survived numerous personal and career ups and downs, including drug addiction and sometimes turbulent relations with Fleetwood Mac, Nicks has been embraced by many female artists who followed her.
Her last solo album, 2001’s “Trouble in Shangri-La” featured contributions from Sheryl Crow, who produced some tracks, Macy Gray and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, who subsequently covered “Landslide,” Nicks’ 1975 Fleetwood Mac hit.
“I’m thrilled that I can be some sort of an influence to these women,” Nicks says. “I hope I’ve been a good influence to them, so they’ll totally keep going.
“I think the music business is in terrible trouble. They don’t nurture artists. If you have a big hit record and a big hit single and you don’t follow it up, you are s–t out of luck.”
Nicks knows of what she speaks. Originally a duo with Lindsay Buckingham, her then-boyfriend, the two were dropped by their label after their 1973 debut didn’t sell well.
“Lindsay and I were dropped like a rock,” she recalls. “If it weren’t that we had a great producer who supported us full on for three years, we never would have made it.”
They joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 and helped turn the band into one of the most successful groups of the 1970s and ’80s. The group’s Grammy-winning 1977 release, “Rumours,” sold 17 million copies, making it one of the best sellers of all time. Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Today, the group’s best-known line up, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Buckingham and Nicks (minus Christine McVie), is on hiatus, but still together. Nicks says the Mac probably will tour in 2007.
“We get all the rumors that Fleetwood Mac is going to break up,” Nicks says. “Fleetwood Mac is never going to break up. We have our problems. We go away from each other. We spend time with family and and friends and the problems go away, and you get back together and everyone’s excited.”
However, Christine McVie, has left the group, much to Nicks’ disappointment.
“In my wildest dreams, I would hope Christine would change her mind and come back,” she says. “If there’s anything I could do to change her mind, I would be in London to get her back.
“Unless she has a total mind meld and decides she’s ready to rock again, I don’t think she’s every going to come back.”
Once Nicks wraps her solo tour in September, she will come full circle to a favorite project: to make a film based on the books of Rhiannon, the mythical character who inspired one of her best known songs.
“This would be somewhere between `Braveheart’ and `The Lord of the Rings’ and `Star Wars,'” Nicks says. “It’s generations of gods and goddesses … it’s the stories the Welsh left behind — how to be in love, how to have kids, how not to fight your benefactors, how to run the world basically — told through the eyes of a fairy tale.
“I feel like it’s my spiritual path to do this. I wanted to do this in 1980. It was in my original contract with Atlantic Records. I was excited then as I am now. Then my whole solo career was busting. It had to be put on the back burner. I feel like it’s come to the surface in a big way.
“People might go, `Oh, I’m so sure.’ But when I get in my head I’m going to do something, I’m never not successful. I feel like when you’re as passionate about something like this as I am, you can make it happen.”
Stevie Nicks with Vanessa Carlton