Review: Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders find 'lost songs'
Jay Lustig, Special to The Record
Jay Lustig, Special to The Record
Stevie Nicks brought her “dark gothic trunk of lost songs” with her to the Prudential Center in Newark on Sunday night. It wasn’t a literal chest, of course, but she used this phrase, several times, to refer to the little-known material that made up much of the setlist.
This show was part of Nicks’ 24 Karat Gold Tour, which follows the 2014 release of her album, “24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault,” featuring new versions of previously unreleased songs she had written at various phases of her career. Nicks sang three of those songs (“Starshine,” “Belle Fleur” and “If You Were My Love”) in Newark, and built on the theme by also including rarities like “Crying in the Night” (from her 1973 album with Lindsey Buckingham, “Buckingham Nicks”) and “New Orleans” (her uplifting response to Hurricane Katrina, released on her 2011 album, “In Your Dreams”).
Nicks, 68, also talked a lot about the songs, especially the obscure ones, and told stories about what her life was like at the time they were written. As anyone who has heard her being interviewed knows, she’s a great raconteur — open and honest and always ready to delve into some fascinating tangent — and the stories made up a big portion of Sunday’s set. She was on stage for two hours and 20 minutes, and at least a half hour of that time was devoted to the stories.
There was still plenty of room in the show, of course, for hits, from both her solo career (“Edge of Seventeen,” “Stand Back”) and her albums with Fleetwood Mac (“Rhiannon,” “Gypsy”). She brought out Chrissie Hynde — who had opened the show with her band the Pretenders — to duet with her on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” “Landslide” was the low-key, soulful show-closer. “Gold Dust Woman” was stretched out into a cathartic epic, as was the “In Your Dreams” track, “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream).”
Nicks — who also performs at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on Thursday — was in good voice throughout, and her eight-piece band, anchored by the guitarist Waddy Wachtel (a friend and associate of Nicks since her Buckingham Nicks days), played flawlessly. Artful, intricately detailed video projections were used on many songs.
One of Nicks’ most memorable stories was about how hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on a car stereo inspired her to write “Stand Back,” and how she got Prince himself to play on the song. She also explained why the “long black car” in “Belle Fleur” symbolizes a relationship-destroying force, and how the upbeat “Starshine” came to be recorded, nearly 40 years ago, with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers — though it didn’t surface until “24 Karat Gold” simply because neither Nicks nor Petty was working on an album at the time.
Opening the show, the Pretenders began with two songs from their 2016 album “Alone” (“Gotta Wait” and the title track) before playing a dozen older tunes, almost all of which were hits. Hynde, like Nicks, has a distinctive voice, and it has held up well over the years. It’s worth noting, too, that “Gotta Wait” sounded as raw and urgent as any of the older songs. Maybe even more so.
The idea of a Nicks/Pretenders tour may not have made sense in 1980, when The Pretenders were lean, mean new-wave upstarts, and Fleetwood Mac was showing signs of superstar bloat with their “Tusk” album and tour. But somehow, it seems perfectly right in 2017, and when Nicks and Hynde sang together, on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” they seemed like kindred spirits, totally comfortable with each other.