[The Nicks Fix]

Orange County Register
August 20, 2001

After rocky start, Stevie Nicks rewards patient fans

Special to the Register

Stevie Nicks adores her fans - so much so that she concludes each concert by urging everyone to "take care of yourself and be well so that you can be with us next time." Ironically, there was a period in the late '80s and early '90s, when it was doubtful whether Nicks would ever regain her full potential as an artist.

Now, with a successful Fleetwood Mac reunion tour and a much-heralded addiction to prescription drugs in the past, the gypsy chanteuse has released "Trouble in Shangri-La." The rewarding collaboration with gal pal Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Macy Gray and others is easily Nicks' most accomplished effort since "Bella Donna" two decades ago.

At Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday night, devotees were given a thumbnail sketch of Nicks' lengthy rock career instead of a hit- packed overview - to mixed results. The luminous stage décor resembled a Victorian courtyard: large ivy-strewn columns, ornate vases, regal statues and an ocean/planetary projection backdrop.

Following the familiar rattling "Edge of Seventeen" guitar loop sampled on "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child, a radiant-looking Nicks clad in black dress and her nine-piece band got off to a rocky start. They launched the 13-song, 80-minute set with "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" amid a muddled sound mix. Nicks' voice had an unusually nasal timbre and took a while to warm up (a recent respiratory infection the likely culprit).

Fueled by some rollicking piano work, the buoyant "Enchanted" saw Nicks' husky voice mesh wonderfully with Sharon Celani's supple backing. Nicks unveiled the Mac's "Dreams" early on and sent the crowd into a frenzy. She left and returned with a gold shawl atop her dress to start the mystical "Gold Dust Woman," unfortunately bogged down by overpowering drums (timekeeper Marc Shulman isn't a master at subtlety like Mick Fleetwood).

Soon after, the sound glitches were fixed. Among the four alluring new tunes was "Every Day," which featured Nicks' world-weary vocals set to strummed acoustic guitar and elegant keyboards. Wrapped in another glittery dark shawl, she confidently delivered a haunting piano version of "Rhiannon" in trademark quavering voice that dwarfed the 26-year-old Mac original.

Then the band moved from subtlety to bloated excess in a 15-minute "Stand Back" that opened with mind-numbing drum and percussion solos and dated disco synths (ditto for the equally long "Edge of Seventeen," lumbered down by longtime Nicks tour guitarist Waddy Wachtel).

A breezy country rock vibe made "Too Far From Texas" one of the evening's highlights and showed Nicks is adept at other genres besides rock. Nicks capped the encores with another stunning piano ballad, the tearjerker "Has Anyone Ever ... " All told, the concert's low points (erratic song selection, way-too-slick band) balanced out with the high points (Nicks' still awesome voice and unique stage presence).

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