[The Nicks Fix]

Contra Costa Times
October 2, 2001

Nicks has a great time out with the gals

Stevie left her serious side at home and brought out her lacy, spinning, friendly self

By Tony Hicks

IT'S NOT QUITE like your typical rock show when Stevie Nicks goes on a solo tour. It's more like a big slumber party for adult women, minus the sleeping bags.

LEATHER & LACE: Stevie Nicks talked to the Chronicle Pavilion crowd about her songs, friends and lost love Monday night. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Contra Costa Times) Nicks, at the Chronicle Pavilion at Concord Monday night, came off like everyone's friend. She talked about how she's feeling, how much she cares about her friends (including the thousands of new crowd pals) and, of course, old boyfriend and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. It's the closest thing to an intimate gabfest someone can host at a large amphitheater.

Nicks enjoyed it so much, she rarely engaged her familiar serious but nevertheless good-witch persona, in favor of giggling, making fun of her band and hanging out with Sheryl Crow, who produced her "Trouble in Shangri-La" album this year. Crow was onstage about a third of the time, helping to bring more of a carefree element to goth girls night out.

Dressed in her standard lacy, black earth mother garb, Nicks played a nice mix of Fleetwood Mac standbys and old and new solo material -- as well as Crow's "Favorite Mistake" and "Winding Road." The pair meshed well onstage, though the harmonies sounded much better with Crow fitting into Nicks' songs instead of vice versa.

Nicks opened with "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," with longtime guitarist Waddy Wachtel singing Tom Petty's part. She also played Petty's "I Need to Know" at show's end, perhaps paying tribute to the man she says helped her recover from a serious case of writer's block when trying to get the latest album together.

Those songs sound better live than on record, thanks to both the tightness of Nicks' nine-piece touring band (with two vocalists) and her relatively carefree attitude. Nicks will never ditch the sorceress persona completely -- with its pillars, lighting and plastic vines, her stage looked like it was lifted from a Maxfield Parish painting.

Nicks loves being a songwriter; the newer the song, the better. Though the Fleetwood Mac songs like "Dreams" and "Gold Dust Woman" were strong and got great crowd response, her best moments came during "Sorcerer," "Too Far From Texas" and "Fall From Grace."

Her range isn't what it used to be, but the lower octaves carried her well through a two-hour show. It took her three or four songs to spin through her best-known stage move, something not lost on the screeching, mostly female crowd (though the spin was quite a bit slower than the old days).

An epic version of "Rhiannon" came a few songs later, which, along with "Edge of Seventeen," got the biggest crowd responses. They were with her all along, groaning when she explained that she wrote "Planets of the Universe" when she and Buckingham broke up for good. "I know, I know," she consoled them with a giggle: "He never wanted to play it, because he didn't like what it was about."

She got a little weepy talking about the past few weeks since the terrorist attacks, and how much it meant to her to be back in the Bay Area, where she and Buckingham lived until seeking fame in Hollywood in 1971. She seemed to do her best on the songs accompanying stories -- she gets most worked up when it means something to her. Touring doesn't seem to sap her enthusiasm for the songs or the fans. At set's end, during "Edge of Seventeen," Nicks spent three or four minutes during an extended band jam leaning over from the stage and working her way from one end of the front row to the other, slapping hands and accepting trinkets. If there was any rock star likely to actually keep some of them, it would be Nicks.


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