Saturday, May 25, 2024

Stevie Nicks BottleRock Festival May 24, 2024

NAPA — After dropping from the BottleRock Napa Valley lineup in 2021 due to continued Covid concerns, Stevie Nicks was due to return. That finally came to pass on a breezy day at the Napa Valley Expo on Friday, the opening day of this year’s music, food and wine festival.

By Roman Gokhman
Photo: Sean Liming

Nicks took to the JaM Cellars stage to Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” in the waning daylight. Wearing all black, including fingerless gloves and sparkly black boots, she and her band got right to it with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” The rollicking song allowed the entire band to loosen up and go full tilt.

She kept mostly to the same songs she performed at her last Bay Area appearance, at Chase Center last December, though in a different order. Those songs were primarily from her Fleetwood Mac days and her 1981 solo album, Bella Donna.

“I hope it’s getting dark quick! Bring on the dark!” she shouted. However, it was quite light out until about a third of the way into her set.

The good vibe continued with warm-sounding mid tempo tune “If Anyone Falls,” before turning to more aggressive material with “Outside the Rain,” which melded right into the ever-popular “Dreams.” Stevie Nicks introduced “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” as a “gift from Tom Petty,” where her silver-haired guitarist, Waddy Wachtel, sang Petty’s parts.

Likewise, she dedicated “Gypsy” to “all the nomads and travelers in the world,” and provided context with short stories about the creation of other songs, such as Stephen Stills’ 1966 tune “For What It’s Worth,” which got a sensual, slinky and slightly psychedelic rendition.

During the hard-driving and synth-pop-tinged “Stand Back,” Nicks twirled around, with her dress in her hands. That was followed by a one-two punch of the poppy “Wild Heart” and the slower, more meditative “Bella Donna.” During this performance, she wore a royal blue cloak she said was the original from the back cover of the Bella Donna album, released in 1982. It was a sweet moment; probably sweeter for those who didn’t see her prior Bay Area concert, where it also made an appearance.

Stevie Nicks’ voice was not as powerful as in past years, which wasn’t unexpected, but she and her band found another gear for the performance’s highlight: a nearly 10-minute version of “Gold Dust Woman,” which began a loud singalong that “Dreams” somehow did not. The simmering 1977 song had an extended intro and outro, beautiful harmonization between Nicks and two backing vocalists, and a rocking release.

Not even the show’s second biggest highlight, “Edge of Seventeen,” matched its level of intensity. The band rounded out its set with the folky “Leather and Lace,” on which Nicks dueted with her vocal coach, Steve Real, before concluding with “Rhiannon” and “Landslide.”

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