Nicks kicked off her 2022 headlining run in Clarkston, MI on September 13th
We’re in Clarkston, MI, at Pine Knob, where Stevie Nicks is kicking off her first tour in a handful of years (get tickets here). It’s Tuesday, September 13th, and the air smells like roadkill.
In the parking lot and the ticket lines, and the bathroom lines and the beer lines, you can practically taste the hairspray. The man behind me bellows, “Does anyone have any mushrooms?” The women in front of me are quite literally cawing at each other, and when one of the ticket lines ends up leading nowhere — a machine has died; long live the machines — a brunette says, “It’s ‘cause men are running it,” and then her friend says, “I need a coloring book and a safe space right now!”
At last, there’s activity on stage. Vanessa Carlton opens with a few bright, pop-y tunes, though it’s hard to hear her over the noise of the crowd. Everyone’s eyeliner is already running. Every inch of the lawn has been pasted over with sleeping bags and blankets, corners peeling back like damp postage stamps. A woman clutches a tiny dog in her hands. The breeze stinks with cigarettes and weed.
Then the lights go down and the band starts appearing on stage while Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” pounds out of the speakers. There’s someone on organ and someone on piano; others on bass and drums; a few guitars; background singers. Then, all of a sudden, there’s Stevie, center-stage, spot-lit; there she is with her mane of crimped, silver-gold curls, in heeled boots, a black velvet jacket and a tiered skirt.
Stevie opens with “Outside the Rain,” the background singers pacing out their coordinated sways and hand gestures. Her voice is as gravelly and combustible as a coal mine. She’s leaning hard into her lower registers — she always has, but her range has tightened. The background singers carry the high notes.
When the band moves into “Dreams,” the crowd loses its collective mind. “I keep my visions to myself,” Stevie sings, and I want to say something about the irony of this line performed for however many people are here, hundreds or thousands, I don’t know how to make those kinds of calculations — thousands, probably — but the thought won’t formulate, or it will but it’s too on the nose.
“I’m so glad to be here,” Stevie says. “It’s been a long time coming.” My date leans over to whisper, “She’s doing a retrospective!” And that seems accurate. Projected onto the screen behind her, old polaroids start to appear. Stevie in her youth: wide-eyed, big-haired, lips parted. She’s alternating the hits with some lesser-known tunes (“Enchanted,” “Wild Heart”) and a perfectly fine version of “For What It’s Worth,” which she introduces by saying, “If you’re a woman covering someone else’s song, better do it well or don’t do it.” Cheers.
There are moments when she fidgets nervously with the parti-colored scarves tied to the mic stand, or the streamers tied to her tambourine, and when she talks, there’s a kind of coyness, almost a shyness, that clings to her like fabric.
And while the audience skews more towards my parents’ age than my own, there’s a girl on my right who can’t be any older than 22 or 23 and who knows each and every lyric to each and every song and mouths along, one song after the next, her hands clasped over her heart.
Whatever Stevie gives them, they eat up. She pinches the corner of her skirt to twirl and bow and they go nuts. She acquires a shawl — she acquires a new shawl every few songs, because she is Stevie Nicks and she can have as many shawls as she wants — and she spreads it out like a pair of wings, and they go even nuttier.
The lead guitar is churning through some slow, creamy tones — creamy but jagged-edged, like chains dragged through butter — but he’s sticking close to the source; they all are. It’s not a night for pushing boundaries or trying crazy shit. They play the hits and they play them well; they play the hits the way the crowd knows them, the way they were recorded.
But the best thing happening on-stage is the harmonies Stevie’s stacking up with her background singers. They only do it once or twice, just possibly thrice. Each time, Stevie turns her back on the crowd to do it.
They play “Gypsy,” “Landslide,” “Edge of Seventeen.” Stevie introduces “Landslide” with a not-terribly-coherent dedication to Vanessa Carlton’s daughter? Who is maybe Stevie’s goddaughter? For whose birth Stevie was maybe present? Anyway, everyone’s singing along and weeping and I hear someone behind me sob, “This one’s for you, Mom!” and when I look back, she’s holding her phone up, taking a video, swaying tenuously back and forth. “I’m getting older, too,” Stevie sings, opening her arms.
They exit after “Seventeen,” but it doesn’t take much to get them back. Everyone hoists their beer in the air for “Free Fallin’” — Stevie’s been tipping her hat to Tom Petty all night, and to Prince, too — then it’s time for “Rhiannon,” and a nice gritty cover of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.”
That’s the end, but before anyone can argue, the lights come up, and everyone goes home happy.
Stevie Nicks next plays the Sea.Hear.Now Festival in Asbury Park, NJ on September 17th, followed by a solo show at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA on September 19th. Tickets for those gigs, and for the rest of the tour, are available via Ticketmaster.
- Outside the Rain
- If Anyone Falls
- Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
- For What It’s Worth
- Wild Heart
- Bella Donna
- Soldier’s Angel
- Stand Back
- Gold Dust Woman
- Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)
- Edge of Seventeen
- Free Fallin’
- Rock and Roll
Natalia Holtzman / Consequence of Sound / September 14, 2022