by Brian Callaghan
Wednesday Jun 25, 2008
Before going to the Stevie Nicks concert at the Bank of America Pavilion Sunday night, there was significant worry she might have crossed over into the realm of self-parody. Would it all be a mess of lace shawls, dervish spins, bleating vocals and freaky hippie chick dancing?
While all of those elements featured prominently in Nicks’ show, the star acquitted herself well, putting on an entertaining and musically formidable concert of songs from both her Fleetwood Mac and solo careers.
Nicks is now 60, but looked much younger. With her long straight blonde hair and wrinkle-free skin, you could easily confuse her for Jenna Bush’s 40-year-old older sister. Her voice was strong and as distinctive as ever, and she wisely surrounded herself with an outstanding 7-member band and three talented back-up singers, many of whom have toured with her for years.
The evening kicked off with a good version of Stand Back, with the classic keyboard riffs Prince provided when the song was first recorded. This was followed by Outside the Rain, a well-received Dreams and an impressive version of If Anyone Falls in Love, a 1983 hit this reviewer had long ago forgotten.
Nicks chatted frequently with the audience between songs, providing little bit of info about their inspiration. Sorcerer, from 1973, was described as being written at a time when she was living with Lindsay Buckingham, waitressing to make ends meet and barely scraping by.
Landslide was dedicated to her father, Jess Nicks, who passed away a few years ago, and was accompanied by a slide show chronicling the life of the singer and her family.
Rhiannon and Gold Dust Woman, the two other Fleetwood Mac songs she performed, showcased her trademark sheeplike warble but her voice was powerful and clear throughout the hour and 50 minute, 14-song performance.
The Mac songs were all wisely performed in extended versions, with playful instrumental preludes that built some excitement before the actual song was revealed.
Edge of Seventeen, with its chorus of "Just like a one-winged dove," was the only other major solo hit she performed. Other well-known songs were missing in action, including Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Leather and Lace, The Insider and Sara.
Taking their place were unexpected covers of Dave Matthews’ Crash Into Me, Bob Seger’s new Face the Promise, and even a terrific version of Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll, during which the vibrato in Nicks’ voice all but disappeared.
Guitarist and musical director Waddy Wachtel led the proceedings, which included a few too many musical solos in the second half of the show. One wished for a few less indulgent solos and one or two more hits.
By surrounding herself with a great band, Nicks proved it’s possible for an artist with a 35-year career to still keep things fresh and exciting, which the near sell-out crowd embraced enthusiastically.
Opening was singer Mandy Moore, who was pleasant and friendly. Knowing most in the audience would be unfamiliar with her music (and having disavowed herself of her first few albums), Moore wisely included Cat Stevens’ Moon Shadow" and Joni Mitchell’s "Help Me I Think I’m Falling" in her set list, providing the audience with a couple popular anchors to latch on to.
Sunday, June 22
Bank of America Pavilion, Boston