Thursday, March 07, 2024

Stevie Nicks Live in Little Rock March 6 'Part spoken memoir, part rock concert'

Stevie Nicks delivers powerful show to sold-out Simmons Bank Arena
by Sheila Yount

For two hours Wednesday night, Stevie Nicks took the audience at Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock on a journey through the past with stories and songs from her five-decade career. It was part spoken memoir, part rock concert, but most of all it was, in her words, a party. 

 “Let’s get this Little Rock party started,” the 75-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told the 14,000 concert goers who sold out the arena. “Keep rockin’ Little Rock.”

Dressed all in black with a long, flowing skirt, accented with capes draped around her shoulders, which she changed throughout the show, she brought her signature witchy vibe to the stage. Backed by a six-member band led by her longtime lead guitarist, Waddy Wachtel, 76, she floated across the stage, twirling theatrically, as she sang a multitude of a hits from her days with Fleetwood Mac and, later, as a solo artist. There was a sharing of energy in the building as the crowd, which she called “awesome,” clearly fueled her performance while she, in turn, inspired the enthusiastic concert-goers, which included teenagers, millennials, members of Gen X and, of course, Nicks’ fellow baby boomers. “This is the joy of my life,” Nicks said at one point during the show. “I hope it will be the joy of your life.”

She opened the show with “Outside the Rain” from her debut solo album Bella Donna, released in 1981, followed by “Dreams,” a No. 1 hit for Fleetwood Mac from the acclaimed 1977 Rumours album. She followed that with “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a song written by Tom Petty, who sang on what became a hit single from the Bella Donna album. Wachtel joined Nicks to sing Petty’s part of the duet as a psychedelic-styled video featuring images of Petty and other rock legends including Billy Joel, members of Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin played on a large screen behind the stage. 

After that, she performed “Fall from Grace” from Trouble in Shangri-La, released in 2001, followed by “For What it’s Worth,” a song written by Stephen Stills in 1966 for his band Buffalo Springfield. In one of several stories she shared during the evening, she described hearing this song for the first time as an 18-year-old high school student and learning only recently how it was based on a confrontation between police and a group of young people gathered on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. She recorded the song in 2011 and, in 2022, she released it as a digital download and streaming single. 

In the longest song introduction of the night, she shared how she and her former partner and bandmate, Lindsey Buckingham, lived as paupers in the early 1970s as they tried to establish their musical careers. Within a period of five months after joining Fleetwood Mac, they became rich rock stars. As her life became more of a whirlwind with their increasing fame and wealth, she longed for a simpler time, she said, and the result was “Gypsy,” a hit from Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album Mirage. 

The show continued with performances of “Wild Heart” and “Bella Donna” before she and the band rocked it out with “Stand Back” from the 1983 album The Wild Heart. Next was “Soldier’s Angel,” a song she wrote for wounded servicemen from the Iraq war after visiting with them at military hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area. She dedicated the song to the people of Ukraine in their war against Russia, saying that, if she was a man and wasn’t 75 years old, she would be there helping in the fight.

A true highlight of the show was Nicks’ performance of “Gold Dust Woman” from the Rumours album, a song she said she always performs at her shows. Draped in a gold sequined cape, she twirled around the stage, her voice echoing powerfully through the arena, backed by the perfect harmonies of two back-up singers. 

She finished the main part of the show with “Leather and Lace,” a duet she performed with Don Henley on the Bella Donna album, and “The Edge of Seventeen,” also from Bella Donna. In what she called a “surprise,” her vocal coach, Steve Real, joined her for “Leather and Lace” in a crowd-pleasing performance with vocals reminiscent of Henley. 

For the encore, Nicks and the band returned to the stage with a tribute cover of “Free Falling,” written by Petty, who died in 2017 at the age of 66. Next came one her first hits with Fleetwood Mac, the 1975 “Rhiannon,” followed by the ballad “Landslide,” also from her first album with Fleetwood Mac. 

A video of images of Nicks with her late best friend and Fleetwood Mac bandmate, Christine McVie (she died in 2022 at the age of 79), played on the screen while Nicks sang the haunting song of lost youth to the accompaniment of Wachtel's acoustic guitar. 

Afterward, she closed out the show with another story, this time about the intense grief she felt following McVie’s death, which eventually led her to tour again. “My mother always said, ‘Anytime you are hurt, Stevie, you run to the stage,’” she said, adding that she was grateful to her audiences for helping “fix her” by coming to her shows. “I love you so much for that and appreciate it, every single night,” she said. 

For those in attendance Wednesday night, there was no doubt the feeling was mutual.



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