REVIEW: Nicks’ vocals fall flat

A considerable part of Stevie Nicks’ appeal is her ethereal manner, the witchy way she slinks and spins on stage, belting out songs like incantations, in a throaty, quaking voice.

In concert Saturday night at the Hollywood Sportatorium with opening act Joe Walsh, Nicks gave a fine portrayal of the good witch — but her voice wasn’t in it.

Nicks sounded strained and congested, as if she had a cold, and fell flat in pitch several times. As the show neared its conclusion, her voice became worse. And after a long instrumental vamp into “White Winged Dove,” Nicks croaked the opening words almost a full step flat and stayed that way until the end of the song.

Even if her vocals didn’t do them justice Saturday, Nicks’ compositions are substantial contemporary works, with, for the most part, mesmerizing melodies and harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. She sang the singles she’s written and recorded with Fleetwood Mac, including “Sara,” “Dreams” and “Gypsy”; her solo compositions from Bella Donna and The Wild Heart albums, including her current hits “Stand Back” and “If Anyone Falls”; and the duets she’s recorded with other singers. The guitarist stood in for Tom Petty on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”

Though Nicks’ musical performance was off, her band was right on target. Of the nine-piece group — six instrumental musicians and three female backup singers — four have been with other leading bands, such as Little Feat, Billy Joel and Joe Walsh.

Thoughout the concert, Nicks kept moving, spinning, walking in place and changing into different colored capes and scarves. Though she didn’t talk at length between songs, Nicks was personable with the audience, clowning occasionally and delighting the crowd when she snatched a tossed bundle of flowers out of the air.

Singer-guitarist Joe Walsh opened the show with a tight five-piece band in an hour-long set of blasting rock ‘n’ roll. Like Nicks, Walsh is known for his works both as a member of a top rock group and as a soloist. Walsh sounded a little smoother than usual, and his guitar playing was powerful, but the band was so loud at times the sound was distorted.

Walsh performed songs from his years as a member of the James Gang, his compositions for the Eagles — “In the City,” “Life in the Fast Lane” — and his solo hits “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Life’s Been Good.”

Linda R. Thornton / Miami Herald / November 7, 1983

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Stevie Nicks, Stand Back 1981-2017, compilation

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