Stevie Puts Vacation On Hold, Aug 2005

She’ll bring her hits and those of Fleetwood Mac for Reno show

by Neil Baron

Stevie Nicks returns to Reno July 31.

When Stevie Nicks performs July 31 at the Reno Events Center, she’ll do it with a show that shouldn’t exist and an opening act that makes her cry.

“This tour wasn’t even supposed to happen,” Nicks said by phone during a tour stop in Laguna Beach, Calif. “I was supposed to have this whole year off.”

So much for rest. When Eagles frontman Don Henley invited Nicks on a co-headline tour, she accepted (Henley is not performing in Reno). Nicks then was offered four dates to perform in Las Vegas at the Celine Dion Theater in Caesars Palace.

“I would like to be able to play Vegas a couple times a year because then I don’t have to travel,” said Nicks, who lives in Los Angeles. “So I said, `OK, I’ll put my summer off. Let’s go do this.’ But this is a show that we would never have put together had it not been for going into Celine’s theater that is like 110 feet wide with 300-foot IMAX screens. You just can’t take your band in there and play. You have to build a world, and we did. We spent two months doing it and it’s an amazing world. So we came out of Vegas with an outrageous show that we never would have had otherwise.”

Without giving away too much, Nicks’ concert features lots of film and video from the vaults of the past. She also got permission to use the art and paintings of her favorite painter, the late Sulamith Wulfing.

“This has touches and moments of, say, Fillmore West or Winterland or the Avalon Ballroom,” Nicks said. “It reminds me of an amazing show from 1971.”Nicks would know. In 1971, she was a 23-year-old musical neophyte. Now, she is arguably one of the most influential and recognizable female artists in rock `n’ roll history.

With her sultry good looks and gypsy-like appearance, Nicks helped Fleetwood Mac in 1977 create, “Rumours,” one of the best-selling rock albums of all time at more than 17 million copies.When she branched out to release her debut solo album, “Bella Donna,” in 1981, it was an instant hit. Buoyed by the top 20 hits “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “Leather and Lace,” and “Edge of Seventeen,” the album reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

After 35 years of entertaining audiences, some might say that Nicks owes her fans little more than to show up, sing her hits and go home. But the 57-year-old chanteuse couldn’t disagree more. During every show, Nicks takes 10 minutes to walk slowly across the stage to shake as many fans’ hands as possible while her band continues to play. For some artists, such a gesture would seem staged and bogus.But not for Nicks.

“It’s physically very hard on my back,” she said by phone during a tour stop in Laguna Beach, Calif. “But it’s something that I’ve always felt was important to do. And I love it because then I have that emotional connection every night with the people that come to see me.

“We also do meet-and-greets every night except for when we have to leave right away. It’s something Fleetwood Mac has always done and I’ve done it in my solo career. It’s a thing that’s good to do. It gives you a minute to have some personal time with your fans. And I have the greatest fans in the world.”

If record sales are any indication, she’s right. Every album Nicks has released has gone platinum, she said. The only exception is her 2001 release, “Trouble in Shangri-La,” which is soon to go platinum, she said. That album, Nicks first studio release since 1994’s “Street Angel,” is one of her favorites. She spent nearly four years pouring her emotions into her words at a time when she was having doubts about her songwriting skills.

When it came time to record, Nicks recruited the vocal talents of Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, each of whom performed on one song. Nicks’ main collaborator was Sheryl Crow, who credits Nicks as one of her main musical inspirations.

“I really felt that was my masterpiece,” Nicks said. “But considering what happened, I can’t be too upset.”Like many albums released in the summer of 2001, “Trouble in Shangri-La” got lost in the madness that was the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Nicks said she is unsure if she’ll release another solo record.

“I really don’t know what to do,” she said. “I’m totally writing. I could go into the studio tomorrow and start a solo record. I think I get better as a writer every day because I work on it constantly. So it’s not like I couldn’t do it, but …”Her voice trails off. Why bother when it has little chance of playing on the radio, which means fewer people have a chance to hear the record?

Nicks doesn’t lament the current state of radio as much for herself as she does for those she’ll likely never know.”There’s a lot of amazing talented groups and solo singer-songwriters that are never going to make it because there’s nobody to give them a chance. I know they’re out there, but whether or not we ever get to know they exist is another question.”

Nicks is helping to change that in her own small way by offering Vanessa Carlton the opportunity to open the show.”She is my baby chick,” Nicks said. “I adore her and I think she is one of the best singer-songwriters to come along in a long time. Like many others,
if she has some people behind her that nurture her and let her spend time to develop who she is, I think that she’ll be around in 30 years, like myself. “She kills me every night. Sometimes, I can’t watch her because she makes me cry. She makes me think of me when I was 24 and it chokes me up. It chokes me up so bad I have to leave. I can’t watch her. That’s the biggest compliment I could give to anybody. She’s amazing.”

A random thought from Nicks

Usually in interviews, we’ll ask if the artist has anything they want to add. The answer usually is “no.” Stevie Nicks had something to add. She took time from her busy schedule recently to visit extremely injured soldiers returning from war at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. “I spent the whole day with them,” she said. “It opened my eyes to the fact that there’s a lot of kids out there that are so injured their lives will never be the same. If you happen to be in a city with a military hospital, get a plate of cookies together and go visit them because they are so isolated and so lonely. It broke my heart. It was an eye-opening experience for me. It really doesn’t matter how you feel about war. What matters is that these kids are paying a price and they’re alone and they’re lonely. That’s what I would like people to do. Take some candy and spend a little time with them. You’d be amazed what it means to them.”

* Stevie Nicks online:

If you want to go:
Stevie Nicks performs at 8 p.m. July 31 at the downtown Reno Events Center with opening act Vanessa Carlson. Tickets are $85, $65, $55 and $45 at Ticketmaster outlets and fee-free at the Silver Legacy, Eldorado, Harrah’s Reno and Circus Circus.

Details: 787-8497.