If fans came to the Huntington Center Friday night hoping to hear Stevie Nicks sing nothing but a long list of hit songs, of which she certainly has many, they arrived late … three years late.
Nicks did that set when she visited Toledo in 2008 and on many tours before. But Friday night was a refreshing change for those who have seen her often in an almost four-decade long career as a solo artist or as frontwoman of Fleetwood Mac.
That’s not to say she didn’t offer any favorites – there were lots – but Nicks proved with the offering of six new tunes from “In Your Dreams,” her first album in10 years, she is still a powerful songwriter.
The 14-song, nearly two-hour show seemed to satisfy the Nicks devotees who filled a bit more than half of the arena but more than made up for it with their enthusiasm for the legendary singer.
After kicking it off with her hit “Stand Back,” Nicks joked with the crowd, saying “It’s so good to be inside,” referring to her previous trip here which was rain-delayed for two hours at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater.
Before continuing she removed her red shawl, one of many in the evening that help make up her pure-Stevie trademark look, telling us, “You have to be careful, it’s very delicate -- I’ve been using it since 1976.”
It’s a good bet most of those in attendance have been following her as long, or almost, with the sprinkling of some younger fans, no doubt having been phased into the world of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie by their parents.
That timeframe also describes her band, as she spoke of backup singers Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks (married to Stevie's brother, Chris).
“They have been with me since 1979,” Nicks said.
Then there’s the great guitarist, Waddy Wachtel, her rock on stage. “We started playing music together in 1971,” she added.
Telling the crowd she believed so much in her new album, she engaged them in stories about each, seemingly winning over even those unfamiliar with them. From “Secret Love,” which she wrote in the 1970s, to the powerful “Soldier’s Angel,” written after visits with injured military at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, they worked well with her classics.
The obligatory “Dreams,” Fleetwood Mac’s only No. 1 single, as well as “Rhiannon,” Gold Dust Woman,” were all part of the night, evoking howls from the fans, transporting them back to the 1970s when they first heard them.
Nicks has that mesmerizing way with her legions of followers, even at 63 still looking and sounding not much different from the past.
The other four songs from the new album were “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream),” a haunting song that only a voice like hers could pull off; “Annabel Lee,” one she said she wrote when at age 17, “For What It’s Worth,” penned during a bus trip across the country, and the rocker “Ghosts Are Gone.”
But the highlight, as you might imagine, was still “Landslide,” one of the greatest ballads of the rock era and embedded in her fans so deeply you could barely tell who was louder as they sang every single word along with her.
Nicks even had a surprise.
“I never get to do this song because the guy (Don Henley) I do it with is never with me,” So she brought out her vocal coach who travels with her to sing “Leather and Lace,” and the crowd loved it.
Stevie won over hearts years ago with her one-of-a-kind voice and she became an icon with her unique songwriting, in the process becoming one of the most influential female rockers ever. But she doesn’t seem to want to rest on her laurels. Give her much credit for that.
Nicks, alone and certainly with Fleetwood Mac, has filled arenas for years. But this time around, it wasn’t full, perhaps more of a reflection of the times, and the fact that she was here not so long ago. This same crowd would have packed the zoo amphitheater again, so perhaps it was a bit ambitious by some promoter given today’s ticket prices and the economy.
Nicks for her part, certainly still delivers what her fans come to see.
Finishing, as she always does, with her smash “Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks reached out to shake hands with as many as could touch her.
Then she returned to the stage with a new choice for an encore than in the past, telling us it was only the third song she’s ever used as an encore (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You” being the others.) “Fleetwood Mac or I have always ended with a ballad because we like to end it with a kiss,” she said.
Her selection of “Love Is,” from her 2001 “Trouble In Shangri-La,” album brought out the very best of her vocal talent.
“You give me a reason to continue to be creative,” she said before starting the song, which contains the lyrics, “Am I happy, yes I am.”
You can certainly tell that, and so were her faithful fans last night.
BY DAN FIRESTONE
PHOTO BY: ANDY MORRISON