Stevie Nicks Still Twirls In the Spotlight|
By Neva Chonin
Ten minutes into her Saturday night concert, Stevie Nicks began to wax nostalgic. ``This is where it all began for me, right here in San Jose,'' she said while the crowd at Mountain View's Shoreline Ampitheatre cheered. ``Thank you, everybody, for just, like, being here. This is a hallowed, sacred place for me.'' The crowd again voiced its approval as Nicks launched into ``Enchanted,'' the title track from her new retrospective CD box set. The ability to extract magic from a night of nostalgia, hot pretzels and plastic pint glasses is exactly what has kept Nicks' fans faithful through her decades of spiraling fortune and druggy excess. As frontwoman for the prototypical '70s band Fleetwood Mac and in her subsequent stint as a solo artist, Nicks has managed to transform herself into a little of everything for everybody -- hippie chanteuse, vulnerable girl-child, formidable diva. Now a resurgence of interest in Fleetwood Mac has put Nicks back in the spotlight, and she's making the most of it, being interviewed by Courtney Love in Spin magazine and embarking on an ambitious stadium tour, which also brought her to the Concord Pavilion last night.
Saturday's performance showed that the 50-year-old queen of soft rock hadn't lost her witchy hold on a generation of graying fans who, in turn, demonstrated devotion by playing air guitar and flicking lighters. Opening with ``Outside the Rain'' from 1980's ``Bella Donna,'' Nicks quickly launched into her classic performance tropes. She assembled invisible runes in the air with snaky hand gestures, twirled a seemingly endless array of shawls, draped herself seductively over the microphone during ``Rhiannon'' and stomped her platform boots to the beat for the crowd-pleasing rocker ``Stand Back.'' Though some of her stage shtick seemed hopelessly dated -- that whirling-dervish gypsy girl routine should have been left behind in the '70s -- Nicks' vocal delivery was transcendent. Backed by an able seven-piece band that included the amazing percussionist Lenny Castro (who also played for ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, the evening's uninspiring opener), she worked her powerful voice like a husky, slack-stringed instrument, bending notes and stretching vowels like taffy. In contrast to her majestic singing, Nicks' stage patter landed somewhere between self-consciously eccentric and obliviously circuitous.
``No one but you guys will understand what I'm talking about when I tell you what I'm talking about,'' Nicks declared breathlessly by way of introducing a trio of songs (``After the Glitter Fades,'' ``Garbo'' and ``Rose Garden'') written during her early Bay Area days with lover/future Fleetwood Mac partner Lindsey Buckingham. Later, during rambling reminisces about her ``outrageous'' life in San Jose, Nicks responded to a fan's shouts with an exultant, ``This is so precious. People always come up to me and say, like, `You have no idea,' and I say, `Well, like, maybe I do. Maybe it's you who have no idea.' '' The crowd loved it all. If Nicks talked like a trippy space cookie, no matter: She was their trippy space cookie. ``Take care of yourselves,'' said Nicks before leaving the stage. ''I am living proof that you can survive a whole lot of stuff.'' Indeed.
Nicks might well be the quintessential portrait of the star in a postrock world: a mixture of power and pathos who wisely doesn't know when to quit.
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