[The Nicks Fix]

Times Dispatch
Sept 6, 2001

Stevie Nicks nails concert from heart


AT: Virginia Beach Amphitheater on Tuesday

VIRGINIA BEACH -- It hasn't been an easy summer for Stevie Nicks. Since her tour behind "Trouble in Shangri-La" launched in July, pop's most renowned enchantress has been repeatedly sidelined by illness. Thirteen dates have been canceled or postponed, including two Midwest stops last weekend after another bout with acute bronchitis.

But Nicks' return to the stage Tuesday in Virginia Beach (postponed from July 24) was greeted with lavish adoration by longtime worshippers who have forgiven the drugs, the weight fluctuations and all the other drama that has colored her career - both solo and with Fleetwood Mac.

But it's easy to pardon her past, because Nicks' approach to life these days is filled with newfound graciousness and optimism. She seems happy, which makes the audience happy.

"I told you I'd come back!" she told the crowd of about 12,000 immediately after the opening "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (with guitarist/musical director Waddy Wachtel handling the Tom Petty role).

Though a still-congested nasal cavity af fected her speaking voice, Nicks' singing on "Dreams" and the ethereal, cymbal-crashing "Gold Dust Woman" was her usual combination of distinctive warble and throaty howl.

Now 53, Nicks still can pull off the witchy princess look - black layered dress, shawls wrapping her shoulders, flowing blond locks - but her trademark twirls seem to have lost a bit of their natural gracefulness. Perhaps she still wasn't feeling 100 percent as Nicks' stage movements frequently appeared labored. Of course, that didn't restrain fans from shrieking as if Moses had parted the Red Sea again every time she moved in a semicircle or rapped a ribbon-laden tambourine.

But the crowd lost its manners whenever Nicks briefly vacated the stage. During the lovely piano solo that introduced "Rhiannon," the audience was apparently cued to begin discussing the headlines of the day, creating an irritating buzz. And while the rhythmic jam prefacing the juicy riff of "Edge of Seventeen" was a tad long even for those who appreciate a well-structured groove, it shouldn't have been a license to chat.

Though Nicks dropped a handful of new tunes from the just-less-than-two-hour show - something she's done on "sick" days - there still was plenty from the meaty "Shangri-La," her first album in seven years. Some of it - the pedestrian adult contempo "Everyday" and Sheryl Crow knockoff "Too Far From Texas" - could have also been axed with little complaining. But older tunes just now available to the public - "Sorcerer" and "Planets of the Universe" - are classic Nicks. Both were written during her tumultuous relationship with Mac guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham and both contain that magic formula of anger and vulnerability couched in soaring choruses and driving rhythms.

Predictably, the biggest cheers of the night erupted for Nicks' 1983 disco-tinged smash, "Stand Back," which she and background singers Sharon Celani and Mindy Stein nailed. Somehow, the song has managed to escape'80s datedness, though one half-hoped for that famous wind machine and treadmill to appear.

It's been a long haul for Nicks, but when she sings her songs, it sounds like she's singing from the heart. Good for her for winning the battle.

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