June 03, 2007
Nicks sends Woodlands fans into a frenzy
Stevie Nicks' book of spells hasn't changed much since her halcyon days as a gypsy rock goddess. But there's a good reason--actually, several decades' worth--why scores of fans still turn out for shows. Nicks' alluring mix of mood and music still weaves considerable magic.
The faithful were there Saturday night at the Woodlands Pavilion. Some in lace, some in shawls and still others in khaki shorts and polo shirts. Several brought flowers. Many scooped up several souvenir shirts and posters as they waited for their queen.
Nicks appeared soon enough, looking trimmer than usual in the requisite black, her blonde hair (still) cascading down her shoulders. She charged through opening number Stand Back and began twirling early in her hour-and-40-minute set, inciting rapturous cheers from the sizable crowd.
The song packed a glossy punch despite being more than two decades old, and it has recently resurfaced via fresh club remixes from DJ Tracy Young. (Coming soon to a dance floor near you, no doubt.)
Fleetwood Mac classics (Dreams, Gold Dust Woman) flowed seamlessly into solo hits (1983's If Anyone Falls) throughout the evening. Nicks has an easy, unfussy grace with her material. It's a familiarity that can only come with time and extensive touring.
She made slight changes to arrangements, and stretched some songs out into formidable showcases for her band and singers.
And for all the otherworldly gypsy drama that marks her image, Nicks comes off surprisingly warm and accessible onstage. Kind of like a really groovy aunt. She thanked the crowd repeatedly for its enthusiasm and chattered casually with her ten-piece band.
A lovely piano intro preceded Rhiannon, which also made time for a quick outfit change. (More flowy black, of course.) Enchanted was a nice change of pace--a jangly, rootsy gem that inspired the title of a 1998 box set.
Nicks introduced Sorcerer as a tune she had written (and demoed) more than three decades ago. It eventually found its way onto 2001's Trouble in Shangri-La, Nicks' last studio disc. The song required more vocal punch than much of the evening's material, and she proved up to the task.
The sly gallop of Gold Dust Woman was like welcoming back a mischevious friend. Images of mystical women and dancing lights flickered on the backdrop.
Nicks described the ubiquitous Landslide as simply being "about family." It still shows no signs of age, and accompanying photos of her late father only added to the tune's bittersweet shimmer.
Extended drum and guitar solos gave way to the sexually charged groove of Edge of Seventeen, the evening's unofficial closer. Nicks disappeared backstage and returned in what looked like schizophrenic wedding wear--a white dress and black tails with fringe. She did her usual meet-and-greet at the foot of stage, making off with several bouquets of flowers and cards.
Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll was the first of two encores, and a top-hatted Nicks played it like a freewheeling karaoke number. Better was Beauty and the Beast, a dramatic ballad accompanied by arresting black-and-white images from Jean Cocteau's 1946 French film. The stark beauty was matched by Nicks' own soaring vocals, and it proved a captivating closer to a familiar, feel-good set.
Show opener Chris Isaak was crooning and cutting up well before the announced 8 p.m. start time. Many were still mulling over Nicks merchandise and standing in line for beer and nachos.
His 70-minute set teetered toward alt-country, but it was peppered with rock, blues and plenty of wry comedy. He tore the front of his pants early in the evening and jokingly tried to cover the hole with his pink jacket and a stage towel. "The kids are getting scared," Isaak cracked. "Mommy!"
Moody breakout tune Wicked Game drew cheers of familiarity, its guitar still sexy and evocative. And Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing (famously used in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut) should have been--but wasn't--another monster smash.
Isaak's voice is a wonder: low and smoky one minute, high and piercing the next. He played up the Roy Orbison influence with a sincere take on Only the Lonely and had the crowd singing along to Cheap Trick's I Want You To Want Me. (Both are on a recently issued Best Of collection.)
He tempered the noirish Blue Hotel with a light touch--literally. As his band Silvertone started the song, Isaak sauntered onstage in a discoball suit that reflected light from every angle. It was the perfect encapsulation of Isaak's crazy-sexy-cool credo.