Friday, June 27, 2008

Nicks lacks spark

Nicks lacks spark
By Bill Thompson
June 26, 2008

Stevie Nicks brought a treasure trove to National City Pavilion Thursday night.

It included a handful of legendary songs (“Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” “Gold Dust Woman” and “Edge of Seventeen”), a dazzling array of shawls, vintage video that chronicled her career since she joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975, and photographs that paid homage to her late father, Jess.

She also brought a talented 10-piece band and more than 30 years of experience as a big-time rock star.

What she didn’t bring, however, was a spark; that certain something that sets a concert apart from a rote reading of greatest hits.

The majority of the 3,000-plus fans didn’t seem to mind. They stood and cheered from the first notes of “Stand Back,” yelped when she went into her patented twirling dervish moves (made even ... twirlier ... by silhouette lighting), and waited patiently during extended instrumental breaks while she changed from a black dress to a white one, then a different white one.

Folks love their Stevie, and it’s not surprising. She’s the real deal, a bona-fide Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter who was at the core of one of the most popular bands of all time.

But that’s precisely the reason she should be held to a higher standard. Even though Nicks turned 60 last month (she’s closer to the edge of seventy than seventeen), she’s still in fine voice. But the stage show settled for ritual -- an interminable trip across the front of the stage to shake hands with every member of the front row of the audience while a security guard held her from behind -- instead of a passionate performance of those classic tunes, which had women in the crowd high-fiving each other despite the lackluster delivery.

Nicks has settled for a comfortable niche instead of searching for that inner vixen that helped to fuel the phoenix that was Fleetwood Mac in its heyday. In a way, it’s understandable. She’s worked hard, and if the rumors are close to true, lived hard as well. She deserves to enjoy her success.

But it would be great to see some of the fire in her eyes that you hear in her voice on songs such as “Silver Springs” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”

Ironically, it was during the simplest song of the night that Nicks allowed a peek behind the scripted banter. After dedicating “Landslide” to her father, she sang loud and clear accompanied by longtime compadre Waddy Wachtel on acoustic guitar, as the photos of her life flashed across the background.

Moments like those are what gives one hope that she will dig deeper to uncover her treasures next time around.

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