Monday, November 21, 2016

Review Stevie Nicks Live in Philadelphia, PA November 20, 2016

The 5 best stories from Stevie Nicks' revealing Philly concert (PHOTOS)
by Bobby Olivier - Check out the photos

Photo Matt Smith - View More
PHILADELPHIA — Discretion has rarely come easy to Stevie Nicks.

Rock's venerable gypsy queen has been a subject of gossip for decades, from her role in Fleetwood Mac's romantic crossword puzzle, to her drug addictions — cocaine, then the tranquilizer Klonopin — to her publicized weight gain in the '90s, from a steroid used to fortify her patently potent, rasping voice. 

But as with any star, there are always deeper dimensions than the tabloids, from the tortured artist fans think they know, to the day-to-day, human person no one really knows at all. 

Nicks, 68, visited her most rooted level Sunday night in Philadelphia, on a tour designed not only to unearth some of her most obscure, never-before-played-live songs — swiped from her seemingly bottomless "gothic trunk," she joked — but the stories behind them. 

And through more than two hours of tales, between songs as old as her pre-Fleetwood days with the old-beau duo Buckingham Nicks and as new as those inspired by, of all things, the "Twilight" film series, the songstress was candid on her first solo tour in four years, and gracious to the Wells Fargo Center crowd for allowing her time to stray from the hits and reveal new moments from her prolific career. And with her wonderfully tight, eight-piece band — many of whom have been with her for decades — Nicks managed to shrink the arena and supply the intimacy much of her catalog has worked to provide. 

As Nicks was very chatty on this trek, deemed the 24 Karat Gold Tour, it didn't feel right to write a usual narrative review in this case, so instead, here are a few of her new stories, told (mostly) in her words.


- "You can't take your boyfriend on the road. It doesn't work," a still golden-locked Nicks said bluntly, reasoning that if your squeeze doesn't have a job on the tour, people start to ask who he is and what he's doing just standing around. Such was the basis of the uncharacteristically bass-funky "Belle Fleur," a song written in 1978 but unreleased until 2014's "24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault," where Nicks said she imagined the "kind of sad" moment saying goodbye to your boyfriend at home, and waving as you ride away in a long, black limousine. This whole explanation danced around the fact that Nicks was, of course, on the road with her lover Lindsay Buckingham for years.  

- Speaking of Buckingham, Nicks revisited the days when the couple moved to Los Angeles in 1971, and in '73 released their lone album as Buckingham Nicks, which Polydor Records barely promoted, tossing it out to the world "like a Frisbee," Nicks said. The single, which played virtually nowhere, was to be "Crying in the Night," a beautifully harmonized soft-rock track Nicks played with her band while kaleidoscopic lights swirled on stage. Afterward, Nicks laughed that she had brought the LP's scandalous vinyl cover, of her and Buckingham in the nude, home to show her parents in the '70s, but was too afraid and kept it hidden under her bed for months.

- While Nicks sang "Bella Donna" and "Wild Heart," the thoughtful title tracks from her first two solo efforts, she draped herself in a dark, blue cape — as she is wont to do — and afterward revealed it was the exact silk chiffon cape she wore on the back cover of "Bella Donna," the 1981 album. "If my mother was here, she would have said 'well Stevie, you picked the right fabric to hold up over time,' " Nicks joked, as the garment had been kept in perfect condition.   

- Though it didn't appear on an album until 2011's "In Your Dreams," Nicks' "New Orleans," a fairly straightforward ballad-ode to the Big Easy, was written in 2005, just as Hurricane Katrina was approaching the city. "As a writer, you worry about how much you can say," Nicks said, meaning that she wanted to the song to stand up years later not as a dirge, but that she "hoped it would be a celebration of what New Orleans is, and we wouldn't just be left with a tragedy." Sketched pictures of the French Quarter played on the large screen behind Nicks, as she crooned about wanting to wear feathers and beads, and walk down Bourbon Street. 

- The night's most dramatic moment, of Nicks-fancied mysticism, was forged in the set's newest song, 2009's "Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)." She explained the song was wholly inspired by the young-adult vampire phenomenon "Twilight," namely the second film "New Moon." Nicks had no desire to release another album at this time, but was so taken by the movie that she wrote "Moonlight" in a frenzy and told her assistant "I'm going to have to do another record," and wrote around this piano-laden song. She performed the track Sunday in a thick, white fur coat and doled wild, crouching movements around her microphone draped in fringe. Nicks portrayed a sort of queen of beasts, as snow and a white wolf played on the screen behind her. 


The night began with a reminder, that The Pretenders — namely the rock-radiant centerpiece Chrissie Hynde — are still an arena-worthy act. Stevie fans showed up early and packed the venue to see the rock hall of famers on their first tour in four years, and watch the eternally cool (and now 65-year-old) Hynde strum and wail. With two-toned hair ultra-teased and an Elvis t-shirt with the sleeves pushed up, the enduring front woman was every bit the new wave predecessor she was in 1980, and with nearly identical vocal control.

"Brass in Pocket" and the more delicate "Hymn for Her" were exceptionally strong, and for all its covers over the last 20 years, it was refreshing to hear "I'll Stand By You" straight from the source. Only Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers remain from the original Pretenders lineup, but the seated Philly crowd provided the new-ish group a standing ovation as they finished. Hynde later joined Nicks on stage for a rendition of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."

  • "Gold and Braid"
  • "If Anyone Falls"
  • "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (with Chrissie Hynde)
  • "Belle Fleur"
  • "Gypsy" (Fleetwood Mac song) 
  • "Wild Heart"
  • "Bella Donna"
  • "Enchanted"
  • "New Orleans"
  • "Starshine"
  • "Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)"
  • "Stand Back"
  • "Crying in the Night" (Buckingham Nicks song)
  • "If You Were My Love"
  • "Gold Dust Woman" (Fleetwood Mac song)
  • "Edge of Seventeen"
  • "Rhiannon" (Fleetwood Mac song)
  • "Leather and Lace"

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