August 9, 2001
Stevie Nicks still casts her spell
By John Moore
Thursday, August 09, 2001 - Gypsies are by their nature nomads, but as long as Stevie Nicks has a stage to play on, the gypsy queen of rock 'n' roll will always have a home.
The only woman capable of sending 17,000 people into a trance with a simple twirl proved Wednesday night that even at age 53, the stage is her world.
Looking ageless but showing some effects of throat problems that forced her to cancel three recent shows, the angelic sorcerer with a cherubic grin played 15 songs spanning 27 years, from the 1975 Fleetwood Mac classic "Rhiannon" to six songs from her top-five solo CD "Trouble in Shangri-La."
Draped in a flowing black dress and ever-changing shawls, Nicks was candid, affable and confident. She welcomed the audience with a sincerity that washed over her multigenerational legion of fans. The crowd was filled with mothers and daughters, adoring men and wanna-be witchy women. Nicks is wanted by men who love her and loved by women who want to be her.
The night began with a clever tease. The familiar introductory beats piped in led cheering fans to believe the opener was the classic "Edge of 17." But it was the pre-recorded Destiny's Child hit ""Booty-licious," which samples the famous "17" intro. Fans would have to wait until the final song of the main set before hearing the real thing.
Next, a backstage a cappella rendition began from the "Trouble" title track. The words "Show Me the Way Back" ushered Nicks onto center stage in more ways than one. The set was a re-creation of the "Trouble" record cover, with columns draped in fauna, vases, an archway to the sky and statues of gold-dusted women. But the best prop was the gentle breeze that swirled Nicks' California blond hair all evening.
She opened with "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," her 1981 duet with Tom Petty, but with superb guitarist Waddy Wachtel in Petty's place. It was a lecture from Petty in 1995 that forced Nicks back into writing, which led to "Shangri-La."
For much of her tour, Nicks has been joined by Sheryl Crow, who co-produced "Trouble." But Nicks more than held her own solo. She sang the classics "Dreams" and "Stand Back," but the many fans screaming for "Landslide" (inspired and written in Aspen in 1975), "Gypsy" and "Sara" were disappointed.
Highlights of the new material included "Too Far From Texas," which could stand on its own as a country radio hit (on the record she performs it as a duet with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks), and "Planets of the Universe." An uptempo remix of that song is currently No. 1 on the Billboard hot dance music chart.
Nicks brought the night to a stirring conclusion with a rocking version of "Fall From Grace" and "Edge of 17," during which she pressed the adoring flesh in the front row. She left imploring fans to take care of themselves "so we can do this again." For her encore, she played Petty's "I Need to Know" and her signature farewell in recent tours, "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" an aching ballad she wrote in 1985 after the death of Joe Walsh's daughter.