For Stevie Nicks Nostalgia is a Good Thing
June 29, 2005
By Chris Varias
At this point in her career, it’s hard not to label Stevie Nicks a nostalgia rocker. This isn’t discrimination. It’s less a case of ageism (the fabled Fleetwood Mac alumna turned 57 last month) than one of no-big-hits-in-a-mighty-long-time-ism. There wasn’t one significant new song performed during her show at Riverbend Tuesday night, probably because she hasn’t recorded a significant song in at least 20 years.
However, as far as the crowd was concerned, the last two decades don’t matter, and nostalgia is a good thing. As long as Nicks’ 2005 singing voice resembles the 1975 version, and the old tunes deliver those bygone chills, she will continue to twirl her way into her fans’ hearts.
Backed by a seven-man band and two singers, Nicks belted her way through a 16-song set that focused on her solo career, with occasional nods to the Mac. The band was outstanding, stacked with lace session players like guitarist Waddy Wachtel and longtime Fleetwood Mac collaborators like multi-instrumentalist Brett Tuggle
The hit parade began with “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” her 1981 duet with Tom Petty. Wachtel helped out on vocals for Petty’s parts.
It was soon followed by the one-two Fleetwood Mac punch of “Dreams” and “Rhiannon.” Nicks played with each number’s phrasing a bit, but never to the point of getting in the way of the song. She knew better than to spoil what was for the crowd a moment of back-to-back, adult-contemporary, yesteryear magic.
The lesser-known “Sorcerer,” with its fanciful imagery, offered Nicks the opportunity to switch into witchy-woman mode, as the video screen flickered with medieval visions of crystals and skeletons and wizards and such.
The next song, “Stand Back,” began with a long percussion intro, which served as the moment for Nicks to fetch her black and gold shawl from backstage. She would need the shawl to accentuate her many twirls (unofficial count: 18 360-degree turns) during the song’s guitar solo and climactic ending.
Other highlights that measured up to repeated spinning included a version of “Gold Dust Woman,” with its tick-tock drum opening immediately setting off cheers; a true-to-the-original acoustic version of “Landslide”; an epic “Edge of Seventeen,” with a lengthy percussion piece starting things off and few great Wachtel guitar solos along the way.
Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” was an interesting choice for an encore song. “It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled,” she sang, which could be her way of telling the world she’s a nostalgia act and proud of it.
Singer-piano player Vanessa Carlton, a 24-year-old who sings as pretty as she plays, did a 30-minute solo opening set that included familiar songs like “A Thousand Miles” and “Ordinary Day” plus a few new and unreleased tunes.