July 24, 2001
FOR STEVIE NICKS fans, who on a cool summer night at Jones Beach were dressed much like her in lacy, thrift-store frills, or like extras from Cameron Crowe's film, "Almost Famous, the event wasn't so much a concert as a communion with a rock deity.
As the smell of patchouli, grilled hamburgers and the warm waves of low tide intermingled in the air, Nicks delivered a solid set, but also left out a few notable favorites: "Silver Springs, "Landslide and "Sara.
Despite being associated so closely with the laid-back sound of '70s L.A. pop, Nicks can really rock. Beginning with the sinewy "Stop Dragging My Heart Around, which Nicks cut with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, she kept the crowded house on its feet all night. The stage, decorated like a Maxfield Parrish oil painting during his Malibu period, was the perfect backdrop for "Dreams. The show stayed in Fleetwood Mac mode as special guest Sheryl Crow ambled onto the stage as the first strains of "Gold Dust Woman played.
Dressed in skintight, hip-hugging black leather pants, Crow added powerful vocal support to the choruses. Crow, who co-produced five tracks on Nicks' latest release, "Trouble in Shangri-La, is the perfect complement to Nicks -- both singer-songwriters are rooted in the same style of West Coast sound.
Crow stuck around for "Sorcerer, one of her better collaborations with Nicks. Nicks then left the stage and Crow performed her own "My Favorite Mistake, which, with its Mike Campbell-inspired guitar vamp, is a musical cousin to "Stop Dragging My Heart Around.
"Rhiannon, slightly reworked with a long piano intro and stretches of slower pacing, was one of the emotional highlights of the evening and featured Nicks' distinctive, throaty vocal quiver.
Continuing to bring her rockier side to the fore was a pulsating "Stand Back, one of many numbers that highlighted the guitar work of veteran L.A. ace Waddy Wachtel. Crow kept popping in and out and did an inspired take on her own "Everyday is a Winding Road. With help from Crow, Nicks performed "Too Far From Texas, another song from the new album, which was further proof of the successful formula Nicks and Crow have together. For one of the encores, Crow joined Nicks on stage in a punky, ripping version of the early Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "I Need to Know. Nicks returned and, shedding the elegant black dress of earlier in the evening, donned a vintage dress and a top hat with large, flowing, white plumage for a beautiful version of "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?
Nicks fiddled with a clutch of streamers attached to her microphone stand and only occasionally did her patented twirls. Although her songs often tackle lofty subjects, she is genuinely grounded and open on stage, and is an engaging performer. She and her crack band also effectively reproduced a very studio-oriented sound.
Finally, what makes Stevie Nicks so endearing is that she is able to write very personal songs and yet strongly connect with a large audience.
Steve Matteo is a freelance writer.