LIVE: Stevie Nicks @ SPAC, 8/30/11

Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks

Decades-old Stevie Nicks songs have been given new life on club dance floors in recent years, with remixes of her songs by New York City DJ Eli Escobar, Australia’s Young Edits and many others serving as staples in sets by disco-oriented DJs.

She’s an icon, whether on the dance floor or in the pantheon of rock lore, one with a singular raspy voice and the rare gift of being able to set a crowd aflame with her wardrobe-based stage moves alone: one twirl of a cape or swirl of a shawl, and everybody loses it.

When Nicks came onstage at SPAC with her nine-piece band last Tuesday (after the PA pumped out the nearly-lost but still awesome new wave song “Destination Unknown” by Missing Persons), she launched right into the dance floor-burner “Stand Back,” which got the crowd out of their seats and moving.

“I’m so glad the weather’s beautiful, and you’re safe,” Nicks said in reference to the hurricane two days prior, after a brief wardrobe mishap required an assistant to join her onstage and un-snag a red glittery cloak from around her neck.

The crowd stayed standing during “Secret Love,” an ethereal tune from Nicks’ latest album, ‘In Your Dreams,” produced by former-Eurythmic Dave Stewart. Released in May to positive reviews, the album provided nearly half of the tunes for Nicks’ SPAC set, interspersed in well-sequenced fashion among the hits.

“C’mon we’re not kids, sit down!” yelled one crank behind me as the fans in the amphitheater were slow to return to their seats during the lesser-known number. (And there were primarily only fans in the amphitheater, as Nicks or her people refused to allow lawn tickets to be sold for this show.)

She followed with the melancholy and disillusioned “Dreams,” shimmying her arms in a fairytale-princess dance. The song was the only hit by Nicks’ longtime band, Fleetwood Mac, to ever reach number-one on U.S. charts, somewhat unbelievably given the extent of the band’s catalogue.

“I have the hit record on my wall; it’s only on mine,” Nicks said, embracing the embitterment. (She wrote the song alone, as she and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham were ending their eight-year romantic relationship).

Her new material had plenty to offer, from the stormy ballad “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” to the album single “For What It’s Worth,” which Nicks accompanied with an amusing tale about filming the video for the song at a desert lake in Nevada, which turned out to be a mirage, against her better judgment but at Stewart’s urging.

You got the sense that not many people could get Nicks to do something she didn’t want to do. The singer’s forceful personality infused hits like “Gold Dust Woman,” “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” with a dramatic power. On the former, she waved her golden shawl like a pair of bat wings as she twirled around her longtime guitarist and musical director Waddy Wachtel, egging on his solo, her clothing serving as both conductor’s wand and stand-in for an unseen dance partner.

Review by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Betsy Demars’ review at The Saratogian
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Kirsten Ferguson’s review at Metroland
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Stevie Nicks is still intense, swaying in her witchy way, spreading her shawl bat-like and trance-spinning in circles to the music. But she’s older now – past 60 – and a master of the stage. Tuesday night at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, she also talked to the audience like it was a coffeehouse, explaining songs and telling stories. She also knows how to be cute, lay back on the more demanding tunes and build an intensity without straining her famous sensual rasp.”

Stevie Nicks – “Smiling At You” (Young Edits Going Home Version) from Pyry Lepistö on Vimeo.

Stand Back
Secret Love

Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)
Gold Dust Woman
Soldier’s Angel
Annabel Lee
For What It’s Worth

The Ghosts Are Gone

Leather and Lace

Edge of Seventeen

Love Is

  1. Monica Harvatt says

    While Carlos Rios is a fabulous asset to Stevie’s band, her lead guitarist and long time musical director is WADDY WACHTEL.

  2. Greg says

    Monica: Right you are. Thanks for the catch. The correction has been made…

  3. Kirsten says

    Yep, my mistake, thanks for catching Monica.

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