REVIEW: Stevie Nicks’ gnomes become drones

Normally a singer with the band Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks is touring with a group of her own this year. At Colt State Park last night, she performed to a capacity crowd of about 9,000.

In the context of a Fleetwood Mac album, Nicks’ airy, romantic tunes can provide a kind of relief from the more serious, harder-rocking numbers the other band members contribute.

But an entire evening of Stevie Nicks is a little hard to take. She sang a combination of her Fleetwood Mac songs and selections from her own two albums, and though each was pleasant enough in itself, the program quickly grew monotonous, even cloying.

Her voice didn’t help matters. Usually it sounds remarkably clear and fresh but last night it sounded pretty torn and frayed. What with Fleetwood Mac and her own band, she’s been on the road a long time and it obviously has taken its toll.

On paper, her backup musicians seem like an all-star team, including keyboard players Roy Bittan of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Billy Joel’s drummer Liberty DeVito and guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who has played on several of the more popular albums recorded in Los Angeles, including Linda Ronstadt’s.

In person, though, the band sounded highly competent but strangely bloodless, and failed to generate much real excitement.

The real problem, though, was Nicks’ music and lyrics, which all sounded the same after a while. Singing one song after another about spirits and gnomes, doing her patented swirling dance in one of her trademark flowing black dresses, and spewing some awfully mindless patter between tunes (at one point she addressed the breeze as “Mister Wind”), she seemed little more than a bubblehead.

Tony Lioce / Providence Journal / September 10, 1983

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Stevie Nicks, Stand Back 1981-2017, compilation