I saw Stevie Nicks in concert last night, and was pleasantly surprised to find that, at age 69, she still has the full, strong voice that made her a star more than four decades ago.
With legendary LA session guitarist Waddy Wachtel leading her 8-piece band, Stevie sang several of her hits ("Gypsy," "Rhiannon," "Landslide"), the best version of "Gold Dust Woman" I've ever heard, and some more obscure work going all the way back to her first solo album "Belladonna" and even to her pre-Fleetwood Mac days. She also told a lot of stories about her life and music, including how she became friends with Prince when his "Little Red Corvette" inspired her to write "Stand Back," one of her most popular tunes.
More than three-quarters of the crowd were women, many of whom had obviously put a lot of thought, time, and money into their Stevie Nicks concert outfits in an effort to mirror her wardrobe although none of them quite matched the real thing. Stevie herself went through an assortment of scarves and capes, including one she claimed to have paid $2,000 for in 1978 to her mother's horror -- but considering how many times she's worn it onstage since, she certainly got value for that expense.
I didn't see any guys who appeared to have given their concert wardrobe much thought. Like, me, most of them had just thrown on a shirt and a pair of jeans and were ready to go. My only other preparation for the concert was to get a pretzel at the concession stand on the way in, a tribute to my only face-to-face encounter with Stevie a long time ago.
It was 1980, and Fleetwood Mac brought their "Tusk" tour to the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, where I was the music director of WRCN, a rock radio station. The record company, Warner Brothers, not only gave me tickets to the concert, but also to an after-party where invited guests would meet the band.
Having gone to a bunch of these events, I can tell you they sound a lot more impressive than they actually are. They consist of a few dozen people standing around with drinks, possibly munching on some cheese and crackers and other snacks that have been provided, waiting for the artists to go through their own post-show ritual (whatever that is), before stopping by to schmooze for 20 minutes or so. Some performers are good at these meet-and-greets (e.g. Lindsay Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood) while others look like they're rather be anywhere else (e.g. Christine and John McVie).
On this night, we waited about a half-hour before the members of Fleetwood Mac started coming in to say hello. Lindsay walked straight over to the bar, where I happened to be standing. After getting a drink, he turned to me and asked what I thought of the concert. I told him I'd really enjoyed it, especially his guitar solos, which surprised me because you'd never know how good he was if all you'd heard were Fleetwood Mac's big hits. He thanked me and explained that he didn't have much opportunity to stretch out in the studio, but onstage, he liked to tear it up, and he was glad his band-mates allowed him to do so.
I asked him about producing his title track from the "Tusk" album, which featured the USC marching band. While Lindsay was explaining the process, Stevie wandered over. She listened to him, nodding with an odd, somewhat spacey look on her face, holding a pretzel in her fingers. When Lindsay paused, we both looked at Stevie. With a wide-eyed smile, she said, "I have the last pretzel!" Then she skipped away. As we watched her move across the room, Lindsay commented sarcastically, almost under his breath, "Great, Stevie."
Right there was everything I needed to know about their on-again off-again romantic life, the fertile ground they had mined for so many Fleetwood Mac songs.
Stevie has obviously grown a lot since then and although she's no longer the hitmaker she once was, she still knows how to entertain a crowd. If only she'd titled the tour "The Edge Of Seventy."
Previously on Harris Online...