Oct. 12, 2011
City National Grove of Anaheim
Three things worth knowing about Stevie Nicks' concerts nowadays: 1) she limits herself to between two and three stage spins, and only during "Stand Back," which in my experience is always the show opener; 2) her voice continues to sound so spectacular; and 3) only the freaks dress up. Even with Halloween looming, I spotted but one witchy woman in a purple knock-off of Nicks' trademark Ren Faire/sorceress get-up; another lady wore a teensy, tiny top hat.
But there are still the costume changes (four looks tonight, including two black dresses, one white and one merlot, all in the iconic, long-sleeved, corseted fashion she has sported for the past three decades; props to Nicks for realizing that covering every inch of your body in fabric will keep you looking wrinkle-free and graceful). And it remains a great show--unlike her famed former Fleetwood Mac flame Lindsey Buckingham (who coincidentally plays the Grove on Monday), Nicks doesn't rely on rote showmanship, repeating the same anecdotes night after night, in the same order, tour after tour. Having caught a one-off performance by Nicks at a desert casino earlier this spring, it was a pleasure and a relief to hear new stories this go-round. The evening felt unscripted--or at least as unscripted as you can be at the tail end of a summer-long national tour.
"This is not a Stevie Nicks Greatest Hits Show!" Nicks announced as she greeted the audience before talking up her new album, In Your Dreams. Using her "magic sequencer," she said, she had woven new songs among old favorites. Judging by the stand-up-sit-down reaction to classics and unfamiliar tunes that ensued, this probably wasn't what this audience wanted to hear--and given the relentless crowd chatter, it seemed that most of the Dreams tracks, which included the Twilight-inspired "Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)," the war-remembrance poem-song "Soldier's Angel," and the incredible, fresh-feeling "For What It's Worth," were ignored. Too bad: Nicks is clearly proud of her new work, with the songs bringing out an energy that was visibly and audibly richer than what she reserved for standbys such as "Dreams" and "Edge of Seventeen."
The lone, crushing disappointment of the evening came toward the show's end by way of a bungled introduction to "Leather and Lace," which included a reference to a certain mega-famous duet partner from 1981 and had the crowd cheering in anticipation of an appearance by Don Henley. Only it turned out that Nicks was just filling us in on why she rarely performed the song--no male counterpart to sing with her--and instead invited her vocal coach to the stage. Dude may be responsible for Nicks' return to glorious vocal form, but his voice so severely lacked Henley's essential worn, boozed gravel that he ended up matching Nicks in his register and delivered what a friend referred to after the show as "Lace and Lace." Bummer, but at least Nicks sounded dead-on. And we have him to thank for that.
Critic's Bias: I used to read Stevie and Lindsey fanfic in high school. Yep.
The Crowd: Mostly drunk, disrespectful and, uh, pretty lost. (Setting down banquet chairs in unevenly spaced, unlit, unmarked rows does not ye a theatre make.) Also, old. Not enough top hats, too much Tommy Bahama. And, for that matter, way too much chardonnay, Bud Light and the special of the evening, some kind of Midori/fruit-juice jungle jam that left the air-show-regular-type next to me slumped in her chair and drooling on herself by the night's end.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I only paid $6 for this drink! [Slurring] It'scalledthemellonball."
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Random notebook dump: I wonder if anyone told Stevie and Lindsey they're playing this joint within days of each other. Ships passing! Like always. Sigh. (Fanfic folks, here's your fodder!)
1. Stand Back
2. Secret Love
4. Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)
5. Gold Dust Woman
6. Soldier's Angel
7. Annabel Lee
8. For What It's Worth
11. Ghosts Are Gone
12. Leather and Lace
13. Edge of Seventeen
14. Love Is (Encore)