[The Nicks Fix]

Arizona Republic (http://www.azcentral.com)
July 21, 2003

Nicks, Fleetwood Mac still pack a superstar punch

Larry Rodgers
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 21, 2003 12:00 AM

Fleetwood Mac may have lost half a step and some of the high notes after three decades of the rock-and-roll lifetsyle, but the band's concert Monday night in Phoenix reminded listeners that home town girl Stevie Nicks still has megawatts of star power.

Sharing the spotlight with guitarist and former flame Lindsey Buckingham, Nicks drew shrieks and applause from the America West Arena audience as she sang the opening lines to rock classics such as "Gold Dust Woman," "Landslide," "Gypsy" and "Silver Springs," and each time she went into her trademark twirling (which she does less frequently at age 55).

With her flowing blond hair and gypsy-like dresses and capes, Nicks has retained her classic beauty and the aura that says, "This is a rock star."

Shouts of "I love you Stevie!" cut through the air in quieter moments of the 2 1/2-hour concert, which built its energy toward a four-song encore that included an explosive take on 1975's "World Turning" and an upbeat version of 1977's "Don't Stop."

The singer, who has owned a home in Paradise Valley for two decades, appeared to be totally dialed into Monday's show, a benefit for the Arizona Heart Foundation. With a mellow, satisfied expression on her face, she created graceful hand gestures for many of the songs in the group's multiplatinum catalog, which earned Mac a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1998.

With the retirement of pianist Christine McVie after the group's 1997-1998 tour for its live "The Dance" allbum, the pairing of Nicks and Buckingham, who both joined Mac in 1974, has been thrust fully into the spotlight. Although the two broke up a few years after joining the band, an undeniable chemistry remains, and the pair are none too shy about playing it up a bit for the arena crowds.

Nicks and Buckingham, who amazed the crowd with repeated guitar pyrotechnics, gazed often across the stage at each other as they shared the vocals on songs about the various stages of love, such as "Secondhand News" and "Silver Springs."

The evening's most electrifying moment came when Nicks sang a smooth, heartfelt rendition of "Landslide," which recently became a hit for the Dixie Chicks. As Buckingham played an acoustic solo, Nicks slipped in behind him and gently massaged his shoulders with her fingers, drawing a relaxed smile from the guitarist. The two grabbed hands at the song's end, and Buckingham, now a married father of two, gave Nicks a tender kiss on her forehead.

Nicks, who was married only briefly in 1981, also mesmerized the audience -- which included plenty of baby boomers but also an encouraging sprinkling of younger fans -- during a crisp version of "Gold Dust Woman" from 1977's "Rumours," which has sold 24 million copies. Hugging herself in a gold shawl and turning slowly around, Nicks, with her smoky voice and gypsy-like attire, owns a one-of-a-kind onstage persona.

Buckingham also connected strongly with the crowd through his sheer energy and good humor. He literally attacked his guitar during the solo for the new, sexually-charged "Come," pounding the instrument with both hands as the song crashed to an end. During "Go Your Own Way," he sat on the edge of the stage and laughed at members of the crowd as they reached up to help him strum his instrument.

The guitarist became a wandering cheerleader during a take on 1979's "Tusk," featuring a video of the USC Marching Band, which played on the track. Although the complex song sounded a bit forced live, Buckingham cracked up the crowd as he swung Nicks around hoedown-style at one point.

Fleetwood, who co-founded the band with John McVie in 1967, also left no doubt that rock and roll at this stage of the game is as much about having fun as it is about making money. Dressed in usual dandy-like style, in knickers with gold piping, red shoes, a red bandana, white shirt and vest, the gray-ponytailed Fleetwood brought down the house when he emerged from behind his drum kit during "World Turning" to bang on a single drum, howl and then play electronic drums inside his vest by banging himself with his hands.

McVie's easygoing approach to bass piloted songs such as the hummable title track from the new "Say You Will Album" and "Peacekeeper," also off the new disc.

While the concert featured a handful of songs from "Say You Will," it was weighted toward the group's classic hits.

The band was augmented by two vocalists, a keyboardist, two percusionists and two guitarists, but it still missed Christine McVie's trademark vocals on "Don't Stop" and "World Turning." The only other minor complaint was that the huge hit "Rhiannon" came off a bit sluggish.

The band suprised the crowd by returning for a third encore to allow Nicks to wind things up in fitting fashion, with an intimate take on "Goodbye Baby," which is on the new album but was written shortly after she ended her relationship with Buckingham.

"Goodbye baby / I hope your heart's not broken / Don't forget me," she sang.

Monday's show was a reminder just how unforgettable Nicks and her band can be as they continue to make new music and celebrate some of rock's true treasures.

The Nicks Fix main page