Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Rock royalty Stevie Nicks turned a sold-out Bridgestone Arena into The Bluebird Café

Stevie Nicks filled a sold-out Bridgestone Arena with songs and stories from her 50-year career

By Melonee Hurt
Photos: Denny Simmons

Rock royalty Stevie Nicks turned a sold-out Bridgestone Arena into The Bluebird Café Tuesday night as she filled the two-hour set with her massive catalog of hit songs — and shared the stories behind them.

Clad in a black skirt and black velvet jacket, topped with her signature long, blonde curls, Nicks, who told the crowd she turns 76 this month, still sounded vocally at the top of her game. She kept the show simple with minimal video effects and no flashy stage shows. After all, with a voice like that and the breadth of songs in her repertoire, there's no need for pomp and circumstance.

Nicks kicked off the night with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" before telling the packed arena how excited she was to be back in Nashville because it holds a special place in her story.

"I'm very glad to be here because I always tell you this, but my granddad was a kind of a bittersweet, bitter country singer and writer that traveled across the United States on trains. He rode the rails, did the whole thing, left his family. And I never really met him. However, he brought me a whole truckload full of 45s which were pretty much solid country with a little bit of Everly Brothers and a little bit of Buddy Holly. I was in the fourth grade and that sent me off to this whole thing. Whenever I'm here, I always think of my sweet little grandfather."

Nicks rolled through songs from her solo records dating back to her 1981 solo debut "Bella Donna" which spawned hits such as "Edge of Seventeen," "Leather and Lace" and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," the latter of which came with the story of the night.

Nicks told the crowd how the Tom Petty duet ended up being her first single off the record, thanks to producer and then boyfriend Jimmy Iovine.

"After we had finished the record, Jimmy says to me, 'the problem is, we don't have a single,'" Nicks said. "Now you being a bunch of Nashville people will understand this better than maybe anybody across the country. That's the worst possible thing somebody could say to you."

Iovine, who was also recording Tom Petty at the time, said Petty offered to give the song to Nicks if she wanted it and he added, "I'll sing it with her if she wants."

"So I went in the next day. I think it really was the next day. I'd never heard this song, so we sat in the studio and listened to it a couple times. And we go out there to record it and it was so easy. It was like he and I had been singing together forever and the saddest thing was that we did it like three times and then it was done, and then I had to leave and didn't get to spend the rest of the evening hanging out with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers."

Other great storytelling moments from the show included a call for everyone to vote in the 2024 election, her passion and support for the war in Ukraine, her meeting the members of Fleetwood Mac for the first time, her shoutout to Lady A's Hillary Scott and her time volunteering for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where the singer spent 12-hour days over a span of several years sitting with patients, giving them music.

"The reason I'm telling you about it is my finest hour," she said from the stage. "A lot of people had no idea who I was because I was so much older than them. But I, I had a, a ploy. I took my entire music collection and put it on iPods. 937 songs. Some people would say 'who are you?' and I'd say 'it doesn't matter who I am but I have an iPod with 937 songs on it and it's going to help you with your rehabilitation. And you're going to love it and you're going to remember me because of this."

She sang "Soldier's Angels," a song she wrote during the early 2000s as a tribute to those she met during those years of hospital visits, but noted the song is also a fitting tribute to the war in Ukraine.

She shared the story of how "Leather and Lace," which she recorded as a duet with Don Henley, she originally wrote for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter. But the song is about couples staying together, so when she learned Jennings and Colter were divorcing, took the song back and recorded it herself. Nicks brought her vocal coach, Steve Real, who she credits for keeping her signature vocal tone in such good shape, to the stage to sing Henley's part in the duet.

But the sweetest moment of the night came during the very last song of the night when she and long-time guitar player Waddy Wachtel performed an acoustic version of "Landslide" while the video screens flashed through photos of Nicks' former bandmate and lifelong friend Christine McVie, who died in 2022.

After the two slayed a beautifully simple version of the song, Nicks told the crowd life without her friend has been empty and weird.

"As my mom used to say, 'Stevie, when you're hurt, you will always run to the stage.' And so I have been running since then to the stage almost every night, it seems. And you, just you, make me better every single night. And nobody else has been able to really help me. So I thank you so much for being that spirit for me. Thank you so much."

"Rock and Roll" (Led Zeppelin)
"Outside the Rain"
"Dreams" (Fleetwood Mac)
"If Anyone Falls"
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
"For What It's Worth" (Buffalo Springfield/written by Stephen Stills)
"Gypsy" (Fleetwood Mac)
"Bella Donna"
"Stand Back"
"Soldier's Angel"
"Gold Dust Woman" (Fleetwood Mac)
"Leather and Lace"
"Edge of Seventeen"

"Free Fallin'" (Tom Petty)
"Rhiannon" (Fleetwood Mac)
"Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac)

Show opener "Rock and Roll"

Wild Heart

Bella Donna

For What It's Worth

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