[The Nicks Fix]

San Jose Mercury News

August 17, 1991
Not the same young Nicks, but the Old spirit comes through
by Brad Kava

You could kind of imagine Stevie Nicks' worst nightmare as you watched her perform at Shoreline Thursday. It's been 10 years since your last hit record. Your voice doesn't drive the way it used to; its bearings have loosened up, like a VW bug with 150,000 miles on it. You once graced the cover of Rolling Stone, a sex symbol. Now your sex life is being discussed by Don Henley in the new GQ and by Mick Fleetwood in his new book and it doesn't feel very flattering.

You look out into the audience of wanna-be's and they are looking a little peaked. Their hair is stringy from to much peroxide; they look a little chunky, a lot older, a little jowly. The trademark black leather and lace that once looked so cool, so '70s, looks more like something from a thrift store. And who is it they wanna-be? That isn't me they are trying to look like, is it?

Sorry, Stevie. But you know Madonna has the same nightmare. It's what keeps her doing aerobics four hours a day and looking for a second career in films. Nicks handled it differently during her hour-and-45-minute performance Thursday. She got back to her roots, she rocked more than a little, and despite what may be diminishing talents, she gave her fans the best show she's put on in years. She made up for what she's lost in her voice by backing it up with a great 10-piece band that included standouts Les Dudek on lead guitar, Mark Andes (from Heart) on bass, Scott Crago on drums and Peter Michael (Sheila E's brother) as drummer and musical director.

Two female backup singers, Sharon Celani and Lynne Mabry, hit a lot of the high notes that Nicks laid off. But even though she was buried under the mix in parts, Nicks' voice was sharper and clearer than it was on the last Fleetwood Mac tour, when it never rose beyond a grow.

She didn't waste a lot of time with the costume changes or dreamy dancing of past shows. She seemed to be concentrating on hitting the notes.

The band brought life to her solo songs "Outside the Rain," "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and "Whole Lotta Trouble," as well as the Fleetwood, Mac revivals "Dreams" and "Rhiannon."

Two of the best songs were "Landslide," her last encore, which was moving, simple and seemed pertinent, as she sang about getting older; and Tom Petty's "I Need to Know," which was played early in the set and quickly showed that the band knew how to rock.

For Nicks, who grew up around Palo Alto, this was a homecoming of sorts. She has a strong fan base here. Even though Shoreline was only about half full, those who came out loved it. A lot of them dressed up, as they have at her shows for more than a decade, imitating Nicks' style.

"It would be like going to a Halloween party without a costume," said Ginger Cunningham, 28, a property manager from Fremont who wore a black Spanish-style lace dress. "This makes the mood. You feel a part of it. I like her style, her lyrics. She seems to be a caring person."

Cunningham said her outfit this night didn't rival a beaded one she paid $250 to have designed for a Nicks show two years ago. The trouble was, it was several days after the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Cunningham said she was the only one to show up for the canceled show.

"It's magical," said Renee Jojola, 22, who wore a black bikini top with a jacket, and earrings through her pierced eyebrow and lip. "She's a very spiritual person. She's beautiful, the way she flows. She's really into spirituality, like I am. It's not a set religion; it's flowing and beautiful. There's a lot of love in it."

Jojoia, who said she works as a stripper at San Francisco's OTaffeil Theater, was insulted when asked if the earrings were clip-ons. "Of course not," she said. "I'm getting my tongue done next week." Speaking of nightmares, Billy Falcon, who opened the show with a 40-minute set, was a mid-level record exec's worst one: 'I got this guy who can really write a nice song and who sings like a combination of Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne," you can hear him say to his bosses. "The more I hear him, the better he sounds. I can remember each song. "

But the audiences think he's bland. They just don't hear it. He should be a superstar, but they think he's just another of the talented songsmiths who flock to the petri dish of L.A. like bacteria to slime mold.

The best part of Falcon's set was when he called a woman from the audience to sing along with his single, "Power Windows." She wasn't a great singer, but she had heart as she sang a fun lyric: "He's got no power windows, no power brakes. Got no power nothing, but he's got what it takes." Kind of reminded me of Stevie on this night.

Thanks to Tami Lee for sending the article to The Nicks Fix.

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