Much as she’s done for the past 40-plus years of her solo career, Stevie Nicks enchanted Pittsburgh concert-goers with a career-spanning show Wednesday night.
Nicks dazzled through a nearly two-hour show at PPG Paints Arena, soaring through Fleetwood Mac classics like “Dreams” and “Gypsy” while delving into her solo career, with hits like “Stand Back” and “Edge of Seventeen.”
Dressed all in black, the 75-year-old Nicks didn’t venture too far from her mic stand except for occasional off-stage wardrobe updates — a variety of shawls, of course — or for light dancing near her guitarists.
Playing the part of enthusiastic storyteller, Nicks offered commentary and insight into many of her songs while introducing them. First, she expressed satisfaction with being indoors after a rain-drenched show in Boston last week where she was forced to wear a velvet hat on stage for the first time in 30 years.
Appropriately, she opened Wednesday’s show with “Outside the Rain,” which segued seamlessly into Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
After the synth-driven “If Anyone Falls,” Nicks told the story of how one of her most famous songs — from her debut solo album “Bella Donna” — came to life, thanks to producer Jimmy Iovine.
“(He said) ‘Well, it’s a great record, and we love it, but guess what? There is no single,’” Nicks recalled of the conversation. “By now, this guy is also my boyfriend. ‘There’s no single. Did you think about telling me that last week or something? Do I have to write a single or dig through my vault of songs and find another song that we didn’t put on there already? He goes, ‘No, no … I have a plan.’”
That plan turned out to be a collaboration with Tom Petty on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which helped Nicks’ debut record rocket to No. 1 on the Billboard charts back in 1981.
One of her most recent songs (relatively speaking), 2001’s “Fall From Grace” rocked with Nicks offering her most emphatic singing of the night and some minor head bopping.
In 1966, Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield wrote “For What It’s Worth” about the Sunset Strip Riots in Los Angeles, and Nicks had long admired it, releasing a cover of it last year.
“He managed to write a protest song but yet write it in a way where it’s like, you’re on this side, and you’re on this side, and you’re down the middle and he doesn’t really care,” Nicks said. “He’s just writing a song to ask everybody to stand back and listen. Listen to some music. Listen to your friends, and don’t be nuts and try to destroy everything.”
Stevie Nicks setlist
- Outside the Rain
- Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- If Anyone Falls
- Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
- Fall From Grace
- For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield cover)
- Gypsy (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Wild Heart
- Bella Donna
- Stand Back
- Soldier’s Angel
- Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- I Sing for the Things
- Edge of Seventeen
- Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)
- Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Nicks called Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” her foundation song, recalling a time in 1975 where she and Lindsey Buckingham came into a lot of money but she needed to stay grounded. She pulled her mattress onto the floor, declaring “I am still Stevie.”
“And much to my surprise — you would probably not believe this — but I still do this every once in a while,” she said. “I put the mattress back on the floor, back to my roots. So if you ever need to just bring your foundation back to where you wish it would have stayed, that’s what you do.”
“Wild Heart” flowed into “Bella Donna” before an electric version of “Stand Back,” complete with black and yellow lights on the stage and video screen, as well as Nicks’ black-with-gold-highlights shawl.
In her most serious moment, Nicks reflected on 2011’s “Soldier’s Angel” — written after visiting injured troops at Bethesda Naval Hospital and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — taking on new meaning in light of the conflict in Ukraine.
An extended version of “Gold Dust Woman” led to “I Sing For the Things,” which had originally been cut from Nicks’ debut album. The crowd came back to life as the drums and guitar kicked in for the intro on “Edge of Seventeen,” another highlight of the set.
Two of the three songs in the encore paid tribute to close friends she had lost. A cover of Petty’s “Free Fallin’” included archival photos of Nicks and Petty, and the closing “Landslide,” a Fleetwood Mac classic, honored bandmate Christine McVie, who died in November 2022.
In between those two came another Fleetwood Mac hit, “Rhiannon,” which drew the largest cheers and helped send the audience home satisfied.
Judging by the restroom lines, the crowd skewed heavily female, and there might not have been this many Pittsburgh women sporting fancy hats since Easter or maybe the Kentucky Derby.
Cil, a 20-year-old pop singer from Colorado, opened the show with 25 minutes of songs about love, albeit with a younger viewpoint.
Mike Palm is a Tribune-Review digital producer. You can contact Mike at 412-380-5674 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Palm / Pittsburgh Tribune / Thursday, September 28, 2023