Thursday, June 26, 2008

“Our lipstick and boots are on!” (Toledo Show Review)

Nicks battles storms during late show at Toledo Zoo

Stevie Nicks has a powerful song, “Storms,” from the Fleetwood Mac album, “Tusk.”

Perhaps she should have added that to her set Wednesday night while performing at the Toledo Zoo Concert Series.

A rain and lightning storm blew through the area just before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. concert and pushed back the start of the sold-out show until nearly 10.

Nicks will never doubt the faithfulness of her fans in Toledo, who waited the two and half hours in unpleasant weather to see the rock legend at only her second performance here and the first since 1986.

“Our lipstick and boots are on!” that familiar voice said over the loudspeaker near the end of the long delay, explaining she’d be out as soon as she was allowed. “We’re sorry about this damn rain!”

Soaked and more than ready to rock when the legendary singer finally took the stage, the crowd roared with the first beat of “Stand Back,” and stood for the next two hours as she carved through hits from her solo career, some of her finest tunes with Fleetwood Mac, and adding three songs from other artists.

In her traditional black dress draped by a red shawl, she followed with the perfectly fitting, “Outside the Rain,” from her solo debut album “Bella Donna,” then went right into “Dreams,” her No. 1 hit with Fleetwood Mac.

“Thunder only happens when it’s raining,” Nicks sang in the chorus as the crowd loudly joined in while getting drenched and basking in the irony of the lyrics. Nicks and her band were getting rained on to, but they seemed to go with the moment and never missed a beat as she was handed a large umbrella to perform under.

Again and again she thanked the audience for waiting, seeming genuinely appreciative of their patience. By then they didn’t seem to care and as the rain slowed and finally stopped, their energy rose.

For those familiar with seeing Nicks alone or with Fleetwood Mac, it’s on her solo tour she gets to engage the audience more with anecdotes about each song, her career or her life.

“We were all sitting around and someone said, 'If anyone falls in love, I hope it’s one of us,’ and I went home and wrote this song,” she said, then performed “If Anyone Falls,” a hit from her second album, “Wild Heart.”

It was also a refreshing change for those who have seen Nicks multiple times to see her change things up and add cover songs by Dave Matthews (“Crash”) and Bob Seger (“Face the Promise”). The former she said is part of her upcoming PBS special, and after hearing the latter, fans probably wish it was to.

Nicks is backed by an outstanding band, led by guitarist Waddy Wachtel, and backup singers, most whom she said have been with her since beginning her solo venture in 1979.

At age 60, Nicks showed she still has the vocals to rock with the best of them.

Maybe equally amazing is Nicks looks nowhere near her age. If that’s 60, God bless 60 (or at least He did with her.)

She started “Rhiannon,” with a delicate, slow version, just her haunting voice backed by a piano, then launched into a pulsating finish, one of the best songs of the night.

“Sorcerer,” was a song from her last solo album (“Trouble in Shangri-La,” 2001) but she harked back to the time it was actually written.

“It was 1973. Lindsay [Buckingham, her Fleetwood Mac bandmate and former boyfriend] and I were angst-ridden and we were poor. You know, great songs are written when you’re poor.”

“Gold Dust Woman” time-warped the baby-boomer audience right back to the ‘70s, as Nicks still delivers an amazing, stirring rendition of the song from the Mac’s mega-selling “Rumours” album.

“Landslide,” was especially moving, as Nicks dedicated the song, as she always has, to “my dad,” who died three years ago. The giant screen behind her displayed a photo tribute to him, taking the audience on a visual ride of her childhood and the final years with her father. Nicks was nearly drowned out by the audience who sang along to every single word.

After exiting for a moment, Nicks returned with her familiar top hat and ripped into “Edge of Seventeen,” finishing by reaching out to the audience, touching as many hands as she could.

It was still a full house when she came back for an encore, performing Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” and you can probably count on one hand the number of female singers who can do that justice. Nicks, of course, is one of them.

That was it because the long delay and a curfew didn’t allow her to showcase with a second encore, “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You,” as ballad she has been doing on this tour and dedicating to the U.S. soldiers she’s been supporting with gifts of iPods and visits.

But it had been a long night, and most didn’t even know that, and it had been a long wait for Toledo to have Nicks here again.

Rain or shine the tickets say.

It rained, and Nicks shined.

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