"Any girl who takes the stage with total individuality is influenced by Stevie." -- Courtney Love
When Love paid tribute to Stevie Nicks in the October 1997 issue of Spin, she spoke volumes for those who have waited for the rock poetess to receive respect for her influence on a generation of female rockers, including Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos, Joan Osborne, and Jewel. "She had a huge effect on everybody, whether they admit it or not," says Love.
And judging from the ardent, largely female audience that filled Radio City Music Hall, Nicks' effect lingers. Rarely has a rock show drawn a crowd clad in so much chiffon and lace. Nicks' fans don't just adore her, they apparently want to be just like her. Their emulation doesn't stop with mere duplication of her fashion and lion's mane coif: Many also have the singer's signature witch twirls down to a science --- as evidenced by the disciples who filled the venue's aisles throughout the performance, singing and prancing while maintaining a hypnotized stare at their prototype.
What is it about Nicks that triggers waves of admiration? Simply, she has always willfully shouldered against the accepted parameters of rock'n'roll. She waxed poetic and wrapped herself in layers of chiffon at a time when many of her compatriots were trading in their femininity for masculine bravado. Nicks paved her own road, becoming a modern-day pied-piper of pop and wielding the kind of media influence currently enjoyed by Madonna. And like the notorious "material girl," she did it on her own terms.
"After all of these years, I think people finally realize that this is not a joke," claims Nicks. "This is my life. It's been quite a journey so far."
And with those opening comments, she launched into a show in support of her recently released Atlantic boxed set, "Enchanted." It was a feast for diehards, as the set was heavy with rare nuggets like "Sleeping Angel," featured on the 1982 soundtrack to "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." It was a brave move that paid off big time, particularly to those who recently witnessed Nicks on Fleetwood Mac's reunion tour.
Of course, Nicks hit the highpoints of her career, whipping through standards like "Edge Of Seventeen," "Rhiannon," and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." And while she never hit a false note, she was never more vibrant or engaging than when she dipped into little-heard tunes like "Twisted" or "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You."
At the age of 50, Nicks is not nearly the spry, whirling dervish she once was. But she remains among the more alluring, charismatic women in rock, flexing a voice that has never sounded stronger. Her excitement at unearthing nearly forgotten tunes was contagious -- particularly during an acoustic interlude that linked tracks "Rose Garden" and "After The Glitter Fades," when she revealed that she penned both songs during her teens.
"I don't write real happy songs," Nicks said between numbers. "But I don't ever write a song that leaves people with no hope. I'm living proof that there's always hope."
And with that, she wrapped one of the dozen lace shawls she wore during the show and twirled off stage, leaving her disciples blissfully smiling and singing long after the house lights went up.
Larry Flick is Billboard's dance editor.
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