August 14, 2001
Nicks still casts a musical spell
By BILL WHITE
Stevie Nicks promised something old and something new, then surprised her fans by admitting that some of the songs from her new release, "Trouble in Shangri-La," were written during her days as a singer with Fleetwood Mac.
Midway through Sunday night's 15-song concert at KeyArena, Nicks prefaced "Planets of the Universe," which has just hit No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Chart, with a tale of her unsuccessful attempts to persuade Fleetwood Mac to record it.
"Sorcerer," the second single from the new album, is another song written in the '70s. It tells the story of the band's arrival in Hollywood, and how that ominous city insinuated its scary miasma into their daily lives.
The 53-year-old singer, squeezed into a black lace dress, opened with "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," written with Tom Petty for her 1981 solo debut, "Bella Donna." Continuing with 1983's "Enchanted," from her second effort, "The Wild Heart," Nicks staked out her territory at the center of the stage, flanked by two backup singers on one side and musical director/guitarist Waddy Wachtel on the other.
The set was a strange imagining of Shangri-La, borrowing elements from Indian, Roman and Egyptian design. Creeping vines crawled up columns and huge vases of flowers loomed above golden statues of Hindu deities.
While singing the Fleetwood Mac hit, "Dreams," Nicks started fiddling with the tassels streaming from her mike stand, an annoying fidget that continued intermittently throughout the show. She donned a golden shawl for "Gold Dust Woman," during which she took the first of her many incantational spins. The crowd issued a roar as Nicks struck a series of witchy poses.
It has become a staple of arena rock for band members to take virtuosic solo turns to cover for the costume changes of the star. Nicks' show was excessive in this regard, with members of the seven-piece band taking the spotlight while she changed shawls. At one point, Nicks spent a full 10 minutes grooming herself in the wings while a rambling percussion duet nearly destroyed the magical mood she had woven.
Despite her frequent disappearances, Nicks pleased the crowd with a nice sampling of highlights from her career. She belted out a ferocious version of the new "Fall From Grace" and lent a magisterial air to the timeless classic "Rhiannon."
Bravely singing six tunes from her new album, and thanking the audience for their kindness in listening to songs they might not as yet know, she proved that her appeal goes beyond that of nostalgia.
Nicks left the stage after encoring with Tom Petty's raucous "I Want To Know." She returned, sporting a huge black hat with purple plumage, to conclude with her 1985 torch ballad, "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" in the style of Marlene Dietrich by way of Marianne Faithfull.
Opener Bob Schneider plugged his new album, "Lonelytown," four times during his 40-minute opening set. Good-looking and moderately talented, Schneider writes and sings in an engaging style reminiscent of Paul Simon. Although he is still finding his legs as a performer, he may be someone to watch out for in the near future.