[The Nicks Fix]

San Jose Mercury
August 3, 1998

Stevie Nicks showers fans with music and emotions


WATCHING Stevie Nicks run through her greatest hits and B-sides at Shoreline Ampitheatre Saturday, one couldn't help but wonder if in a quarter of a century such young divas as Jewel, Gwen Stefani and the Spice Girls will have the chops and emotional depth to make two hours pass as quickly.

Because like them, Nicks' early career was marked more by sex appeal, overwrought emotion and the kind of quasi-mystical vision of witches, angels and unicorns that line the rooms of preteen girls.

But this show was a surprisingly mature look back at a career of Top 40 rocking hits and touching ballads from a 50-year-old woman who was candid, talkative and proud to share her achievements.

She is the only member of Fleetwood Mac, which she joined in 1975, who has had multiplatinum solo success and maintained a legion of fans who sold two-thirds of Shoreline for as much as $75 a seat.

On a stage garnished with pink curtains, her feet were on the ground, which was a relief from past performances, particularly in her days of cocaine abuse.

She spun around a couple of times, but the whirling and cloying Welsh witch was gone. In her place was a clear-eyed singer/songwriter who had wisdom and dreams to share.

Nicks said that returning to the South Bay, where she attended Menlo-Atherton High School and San Jose State University, made her feel like she was doing a show in her living room.

And it seemed that way from the audience: the intimacy and tenderness was a delight.

She drew from a new three-disc retrospective set ``Enchanted'' (Atlantic), balancing songs of loss like ``After the Glitter Fades,'' ``Garbo,'' and ``Enchanted'' with get-out-of-your-seat rock anthems ``Stand Back,'' ``Edge of Seventeen,'' ``Rhiannon'' and Tom Petty's ``I Need to Know.''

``Children get older and I'm getting older too,'' she sang during ``Landslide,'' which she dedicated to deceased promoter Bill Graham. She looked out and nodded at the line, sharing a moment of truth with her fans. It wasn't regret but an acknowledgment of the time they have spent together.

During a semi-acoustic set, she reminisced about playing with Lindsey Buckingham at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in 1971, opening for every band that passed through town. She recalled spending her last $110 on a blouse for the cover of the album they did together, and then having her partner hate the blouse.

To recoup, she said, she wrote ``Garbo'' with its line about losing herself in a silvery dress.

She said she wrote ``Rose Garden'' when she was 17 and dating the ``most handsomest guy'' in her high school, a man she didn't name but who she said was at the show.

On ``Gold Dust Woman'' her voice, which has lost much of its already-limited range, was almost a Tom Waits-like croak. But this added to the power of a song about the shattered illusions of drugs.

Her fans may have sensed this intimacy in her recordings, but it was rarely seen on stage, where she preferred to hide between a cartoonish image of leather, lace and billowy scarves.

On this night Nicks overcame her vocal limitations by infusing her words with emotion. It was raw, tender and meaningful, sort of gettin' real with Stevie.

It showed a performer with plenty of sparkle after the glitter fades.

A couple of other notes: her band of session musicians was rock solid, powerful and unpretentious.

Nicks's costume changes were a waste of time, because they all looked like the same maternity dress in different colors.

But those in the audience, who took the same lace outfits and high-heeled boots out of mothballs for the show, may have appreciated it.

Opener Michael McDonald's middle-of-road set was better suited to a Las Vegas lounge than a rock 'n' roll stage.

His rehash of stale Doobie Brothers hits made each ``Minute by Minute'' seem like an hour.

Thanks to CL Moon for sending this interview to The Nicks Fix.
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