Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Review Stevie Nicks Live in Denver June 1, 2024

Stevie Nicks Review: A Tribute to Colorado and Christine McVie

The legendary rock star shared stories of Tom Petty and delivering iPods to soldiers, and put Ball Arena in a wave of tears with a tribute to Christine McVie.

By Emily Ferguson

After Stevie Nicks opened her set at Ball Arena with "Outside the Rain" and "Dreams," she gave the crowd a wide smile as the spotlight transformed her wild mane into a golden halo. "I've been here many times before, partly because I love to come and play here," Nicks told the packed audience in her signature raspy voice.

"But the second reason is because I have a lot of family here," she continued. "My great-great-grandmother came across in the last...big covered wagon across the Rocky Mountains. I am told she hid in the trunk. So stay strong, we can get through anything, nothing's gonna get us, and we're gonna get in that trunk! So welcome, everybody. Let's get this Colorado party started."

And what a party it was. Nicks poured her heart and soul into the show, filled with hits and personal stories, making it clear she remains committed to delivering a magical experience with her live appearances. This makes her a rarity among many of her classic-rock peers, who tend to phone it in after singing the same songs for decades (though she did seem a little bored during "Dreams"). But her impressive musicianship hasn't faded a bit since she became a global superstar via Fleetwood Mac back in 1975 and penned some of that band's best songs, then kicked off a solo career with her multi-platinum debut, Bella Donna, in 1981.

In return, Coloradans showcased their own commitment to the singer. Women descended onto the venue like a cavalcade of fairies and witches, decked out in outfits to emulate the star in shining shawls embossed with flowers or dripping with fringe, velvet bell bottoms and skirts made for twirling and twirling. As a fellow concert-goer put it: "This would be the best place to meet a MILF."

Between songs, Nicks would often impart some witchy wisdom, share stories or sometimes call on her Colorado ancestors to "please help me breathe!" Before performing "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," the first single released off Bella Donna, Nicks shared how the massive hit collaboration with Tom Petty came to be. Her producer, Jimmy Iovine, broke the news that the record didn't have a song that would work as a single, and Nicks "was freaked out completely," she said. But Iovine was also working with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and told her: "He has a song that he is willing to let you have. ... It's all recorded, it's done. All you have to do is go there tomorrow and sing it, and if you would like for him to, he will sing it with you."

"I went there the next day," Nicks recalled, "and I was so nervous, because as long as I've been a Tom Petty fan, which is years, I'd never met him. So I was way overdressed." She gestured to her outfit, a black velvet top and ruched grey skirt: "This is nothing."

Meanwhile, Petty and his bandmates were dressed in jeans and tees. After Petty checked that she knew the lyrics — it was the only Bella Donna song that Nicks did not write — they recorded it within three or four takes. "That song shot Bella Donna straight to the Billboard number three," Nicks said, before launching into the hit.

Nicks gave us a glimpse into her younger years in Fleetwood Mac as she geared up to play "Gypsy," recalling how she joined the band and not long after skyrocketed to fame. Of course, it took hard work to get there, and many days of wanting to give up. She now sees that time as the "halcyon days," she said. "I miss those days."

As the band started making more money, her mother was afraid she would become "a tax evader," Nicks recalled.

"She said, 'How do you feel about jail?' or, 'How much money are you making every week?' 'Is Mick [Fleetwood] giving?' Because I told her Mick was our manager," Nicks said, and laughed.

She told her mother that Fleetwood had "a little black book — with girls, too, probably — where we signed when he gave" the bandmates their cut. That cut quickly rose from hundreds of dollars to thousands, and Nicks recalled hanging wet $100 bills to dry. Her mother convinced her and then on-again-off-again partner Lindsey Buckingham to get an accountant.

"That is why Lindsey and I are the only people who actually have any money," Nicks said with a laugh.

Fame could be hard to navigate. She would sometimes take her "beautiful brand-new gorgeous king-sized bed and put the mattress on the floor, pull out all my old covers I saved — because I'm a hoarder — and flowers," Nicks said. "And I would sit on my mattress and I would go: 'I'm still Stevie.'"

Such statements highlight the almost childlike, yet potently powerful, genuineness of Nicks. She told a story of how she was the "iPod fairy" for soldiers serving in Iraq, bringing thousands of iPods filled with music she curated. "I went there so many times," she said, "that I actually got a medal for going there — more times than the president, more than all the representatives, the Congress and all those people."

She recalled arriving in the early afternoon and spending individual time with at least fifty to sixty soldiers, and she wouldn't leave until early the next morning. "I would know that most of these people aren't going to know who I was," she added. "So I thought: 'I got this.' ... They'd go, 'Hey, who are you?' And I'd say, 'Well, I'm Stevie Nicks, and I'm actually the iPod fairy that is coming by to drop off some music for you, because I hear that you need a new iPod.' ... I'd go in and sit on the bed and we'd talk about music, and then they would tell me some amazing secrets, and we will become great friends. ... Every time, it was my finest hour. I was never in a rush. I didn't care if I'd ever come back to this. I was happy to be there."

Her set finished with a highlight, "Edge of Seventeen." The band constructed new heights of anticipation by repeating the first chords for several minutes, before Nicks made her entrance (wearing a new shawl, of course).  As guitarist Waddy Wachtel produced an electrifying solo, Nicks unsheathed her tambourine from the mic stand, whirling it around her as she crossed from stage right to left, curtseying goodbye to each section.

The most emotional moment came during the encore, when Nicks sang "Rhiannon" and then "Landslide." Tears were inevitable as soon as photos of Nicks and Fleetwood Mac keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie, who passed in 2022, appeared on the screen, some going back to the beginning of the band and others from the years leading up to McVie's death. Nicks has used this ballad to honor McVie, whom she called her best friend, many times before; it was still a powerful way to end the show, before Nicks again beamed at the crowd.

She took the final moments to send love to her family, friends and the audience, saying she wanted to "sprinkle some fairy dust" on us all.

"I have never lived here, but my whole side of my relatives on one side are all from here, and I've known them since I was little, and I've known their stories and their hardships and how, really, what a marvelous place this is," she said. "In the long run, John Denver moved here, and he said he was born the day he got here. I met John Denver, and I asked him about that, and he said, 'It is true. The day I got to Colorado, I was born.' I said, 'Wow! I come from there!'"

And as she took her bow, she was sure to say what we all felt about her: "I will always love you."

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