PHOENIX — Stevie Nicks’ waited until taking her final bow before choking back a tear that was welling for the better part of her 2 1/2-hour show Thursday night.
“Take care of each other and be good to each other. Life is so fragile,” she said, referring to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York.
The 9,000 people loosely filling Nicks’ hometown arena cheered in support and allowed their favorite daughter a moment of emotional indulgence.
They owed her that much for helping them to forgot about the attacks, the war on terrorism and much else to do about the world outside of America West Arena.
Nicks and a few of her friends took the audience back to the cold war 1980s, before anyone had really heard of a madman named Osama bin Laden.
Thursday night’s show was a fund-raiser for the Arizona Heart Institute Foundation. But with the exception of State Attorney General Janet Napolitano and a suit-clad foundation official saying a few words, you never would have known that the evening was dedicated to such warm-and-fuzzy pursuits.
The audience came to see the legendary Nicks and her enviable cast of friends — Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and Natalie Maines.
From the opening chords of “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” Nicks turned back the clock 20 years, to the days when her ethereal, mystical voice ruled the radio.
Not daunted by age or the ever changing pop music landscape, she sounded and looked just as she had back then, sans the after-effects of heavy partying. She swirled, she twirled, she bent down in that swoop and turn that made everyone want to be a gypsy like her.
Granted, she didn’t bend as low as she did in her youth, but the magic was just as tangible.
Nicks barely uttered the first words of “Stand Back” when the crowd took over, their chorus overflowing the arena. They boldly and loudly sang along to every song she performed: “Edge of Seventeen,” “Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Enchanted.”
One by one she invited each of her special friends to share the mike on a song that forever ties them to Nicks: Henley on “Leather and Lace,” Maines on “Too Far From Texas,” Crow on “Sorcerer” and Buckingham on the classic “Landslide,” a song the pair dedicated to Nicks’ father, Jess.
As Buckingham picked the intricate notes on his guitar, Nicks let the words slip out like lines of poetry, softly and packed with the emotional weight they’ve carried since she penned the song 30 years ago.
The pair share a musical bond that can’t be broken, which could explain why they and their Fleetwood Mac bandmates, sans Christy McVie, are in the studio now recording a new album.
Nicks is forging new but seemingly just as solid bonds with her newest friends, Crow and Maines. She gushed over both women, crediting Crow with the very existence of her latest album, “Trouble in Shangri-La.” She said that after two days in the studio with Maines, she felt as if they pair had been performing together a lifetime.
Nicks also let her friends hog the spotlight individually, which gave Henley a chance to resurrect two of his classics: “End of the Innocence” and “Boys of Summer.” Buckingham jammed on the guitar and then invited Fleetwood to bang on the drums for a number.
But the applause was most deafening when Nicks was solo, spinning a tale of a “Gold Dust Woman” or asking the question “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You,” not anticipating an answer.
The crowd answered back by singing along.
For a little while, Sept. 11 and all that has come after it didn’t exist, and the tears that Stevie Nicks was holding back could just as easily have been tears of joy.
Cathalena E. Burch / Arizona Daily Star / Friday, December 7, 2001