Monday, December 18, 2023

Follow The Shawls... Stevie Nicks Live in San Francisco Dec 15, 2023

‘I feel like I’m home’: Stevie Nicks conjures the magic for S.F.
By Tony Bravo

Photo: Dana Jacobs

If you’re trying to find the path to a Stevie Nicks concert in any city, just follow the shawls.

The singer’s trademark accessory was in abundance Friday, Dec. 15, at San Francisco’s Chase Center, along with peasant skirts, top hats and lace as fans dressed in homage to the rock ’n’ roll queen and fashion icon.

“I dressed as Stevie Nicks for Halloween two or three years ago, then my brain chemistry changed and I never stopped,” said Emma Sullivan, who was bedecked in layers of black velvet and Victorian chokers. 

Sullivan attended Nicks’ last concert of the year with her equally festooned sister Ysabel. The San Francisco siblings remember listening to Nicks’ music — both her solo albums and hits with Fleetwood Mac — with their parents as children. But for them, Nicks’ appeal is more than just nostalgia. 

“She’s a queer icon, a feminist icon,” said Ysabel Sullivan, “and I connect with the spiritual and darker aspects of her music.”

For fellow San Franciscan Warren Sinclair, his fandom also goes beyond an appreciation of her music. 

“It’s the closest thing to a religious experience in my life,” said Sinclair, who was attending his 20th Nicks concert in two decades. “Each one is as magical as the first time.” 

Nicks, nicknamed “White Witch” by loyal followers, also seemed to be feeling the magic for the two-hour show.

Wearing a black velvet jacket over a black ruched skirt with her long blond hair curly and loose, Nicks had a youthful glow under the stage lights. But she did not shy away from mentioning her age — she proclaimed she’s 75 several times — or her “fairy grandmother” status during the show. 

Throughout the night, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer also referenced her deep local roots. Nicks’ family moved to the Bay Area when she was a teenager, and it was during her senior year at Menlo-Atherton High School that she met future musical partner Lindsey Buckingham. The two later attended San Jose State University together before dropping out to pursue music, forming bands Fritz and Buckingham Nicks before finding success with Fleetwood Mac. 

Nicks told the audience that while she lived in the Bay Area for only about seven years, her connection to the region remains strong.

“I feel like I’m home,” she said in the first of many stories she shared between songs. 

Nicks said being back in San Francisco brought back memories from earlier days, including the time she performed at the Fillmore in “1969 or ’70,” she said, with Buckingham and their band Fritz. 

“This guy is heckling me, ‘Hey baby, what you doing?,’ and guess who walks onstage — Mr. Bill Graham,” Nicks recounted, referring to the legendary San Francisco concert promoter. “He stomps out on the stage, and I’m not sure who he is but I know he’s someone … He went, ‘I want you to get out of my f—ing Fillmore and never f—ing come back to this building ever. And if I ever see you come back, I’ll kill you!’ ”

Friday night’s concert, rescheduled from March due to a band member’s COVID illness, closed Nicks’ 2023 leg of her tour before she goes on the road again in February. The crowd spanned generations, with fans in their 70s and 80s mixing with children, at least one of whom was carrying the special edition Stevie Nicks Barbie that was released earlier this year. 

Nicks opened the concert with 1981’s “Outside the Rain” from her first solo outing “Bella Donna,” then immediately transitioned into Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” from the band’s 1977 album “Rumours.” 

In recent years, Nicks, like many singers her age, has dropped some of the high notes from her songs, but they’re not too missed under the enveloping musical direction of her longtime guitarist Waddy Wachtel. Her voice has become richer and gained color, with her signature vibrato matured into a warmer timbre.

One of the concert’s recurring themes was Nicks’ homages to her late friend and sometimes collaborator, Tom Petty. On the Petty-authored “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” she dueted with Wachtel in Petty’s place, tearing ferociously through the lyrics. Later, she covered Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” with a soaring freedom in her voice. 

Her versions of her Fleetwood Mac classics “Gypsy” and “Gold Dust Woman,” plus her solo hit “Edge of Seventeen,” were expected crowd pleasers. But to many, her lesser-known 2011 “Soldier’s Angel” was a surprise. 

She introduced the song by referencing the war in Ukraine, saying, “If I was a guy and wasn’t 75, I’d go” fight for the country, she said, before launching into a performance accompanied by images of the conflict, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the country’s flag. 

Although Nicks didn’t change costumes during her performance, she did switch out shawls a number of times, reentering to roars when she sang her solo hit “Bella Donna” draped in the original purple shawl from the album. 

For her encores, she sang Fleetwood Mac hits “Rhiannon” — complete with streamer-laden tambourine — and closed with “Landslide,” which she dedicated to her late Fleetwood Mac bandmate Christine McVie, who died last year at age 79. 

Before exiting the stage, Nicks said that she loves San Francisco and can’t wait to return. 

As the crowd exited Chase Center, a sea of gold sequins, fringe and leather moved through Thrive City just outside the stadium, where a few fans continued to twirl in their shawls. 

Stevie Nicks shares why she moved out of San Francisco at Chase Center concert
By Gabe Lehman

Because of Fleetwood Mac’s well-known connection to Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, it’s easy to forget Stevie Nicks lived in the San Francisco Bay Area before she ever made it big in Southern California. But the rock legend reminded her Chase Center crowd of her roots as soon as she came onstage to open her triumphant set on Friday.

“This is where I would say, ‘Welcome, San Francisco’ but I could just say, ‘I feel like I’m home,’” said Nicks, who moved to the Bay Area as a high schooler and went to college at San Jose State University. 

Before continuing with the show, Nicks proved her Bay Area bona fides by casually name-dropping an iconic city venue and one of the most important men in San Francisco music history. 

As she told it, Nicks was performing at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1970 when she started being heckled and catcalled by someone in the crowd. According to Nicks, a man came on stage and told the heckler, “I want you to get out of my f—king Fillmore and never f—king come back to this building ever. And if I ever see you again, I’ll kill you!”

That man, Nicks soon found out, was none other than legendary San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham, famed for helping launch careers for the likes of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin.

“My heart is still here,” said Nicks of the San Francisco Bay Area. “I lived here for about seven years, and had I not joined the band and went to LA I would still be living here.”

The line wasn’t empty pandering. With her flowing shawls, aura of warmth and recollections of San Francisco’s rock ’n’ roll heyday, Nicks fits the bill for a hippie Bay Area grandma. 

Over the next two hours, Nicks performed a medley of songs from her days with Fleetwood Mac, from her solo career and even a couple of covers of her close friend Tom Petty. 

There were points during the show where Nicks showed her age. She sings some of her hits like “Dreams” and “Gold Dust Woman” at a lower pitch than they were recorded. And at a few points, she lost track of her thoughts and had to start a sentence over. But she was hardly trying to hide the fact that she’s 75 years old. She happily poked fun at herself for not being able to get Netflix to work on her home TV (an issue anyone with baby boomer parents is certainly used to.)

For the most part, Nicks proved her reputation as one of rock’s living legends.

She can still belt when she needs to, including during performances of “Bella Donna” and “Rhiannon”; and her stories of triumph and heartbreak while recording Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” in Sausalito are so central to music history that they served as inspiration for a bestseller and Emmy-nominated series.

After her initial set concluded with “Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks treated the crowd to two encores (she didn’t become a two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer by being modest). The second concluded with a touching rendition of “Landslide,” which she performed in front of photos of her friend and Fleetwood bandmate Christine McVie, who passed away last year. 

As the last notes of “Landslide” faded, the crowd headed back to their Bay Area homes. Had Fleetwood Mac not become one of the biggest bands of the past 50 years, Nicks would have been doing the same exact thing. 

REVIEW: Stevie Nicks lets the jukebox play at Chase Center
By: Mel Bowman

SAN FRANCISCO — Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks revisited her songbook with the group as well as her solo material at Chase Center on Friday.

Nicks walked onto the stage in a black dress covered by a lacy shawl, the first of several outfits she would don throughout the night. Her blonde wavy hair flowed down long past her shoulders.

She and her band began with “Outside the Rain,” from 1981 solo album Bella Donna. This flowed into another crowd favorite, Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” from 1977’s Rumours, with its familiar guitar interlude between verses.

“I feel like I’m home. It’s so crazy,” Nicks said afterward. She talked about one of her first times playing the Fillmore, where Bill Graham admonished a heckler in the audience on her behalf. She explained that’s why her heart remains in San Francisco, and that she spent seven years living in the city after that experience.

Nicks’ voice was in good form; her iconic vibrato clear and strong. She artfully arranged her vocals to avoid some of the higher notes from the original recordings, but the songs still maintained the same feel. She belted out the lyrics with ease, breezing through each song.

She followed “If Anyone Falls,” from 1983’s The Wild Heart, with a story about meeting Tom Petty, with whom she collaborated on 1981’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Her performance of the song featured a Petty-esque guitar solo, with Nicks’ guitarist singing the late Petty’s parts.

Nicks, a master storyteller, spoke of first encounters with music industry leader Jimmy Iovine and the late Christine McVie. A story about how she and Lindsey Buckingham met and  joined Fleetwood Mac led up to “Gypsy,” from the 1982 Fleetwood Mac album Mirage. Many in the crowd, who sat for much of the performance, stood for this one.

After “The Wild Heart,” Nicks mentioned that she was wearing the original “Bella Donna” shawl, then replaced it with another for “Stand Back.”

There was a brief technical problem with the video screens, during which Nicks chatted some more, before she and her band kicked into “Soldier’s Angel.” Images of Russia’s war in Ukraine, including Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and the country’s flag, rolled on the screen behind her.

Stevie Nicks followed that up with Rumours‘ “Gold Dust Woman,” “I Sing for the Things” and “Edge of Seventeen.” She even performed her iconic whirling dance to the latter.

After a very quick break, Nicks returned for an encore of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.”

The performance, which was about two hours long, was previously scheduled last March but postponed after a Covid-19 diagnosis within Nicks’ band.

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