The spirit of Stevie Nicks was strong Thursday night at the Veterans Memorial Area, manifested in fringe, flowing frocks, floppy 70’s hats and feathers worn by fans in homage to the goddess. As the crowds funneled into the densely-packed arena for the double bill 24K Gold Tour, an undercurrent of grumblings could be heard from those disappointed that The Pretenders would be a no-show. The cancellation was attributed to Chrissie Hynde’s illness. Tickets were refunded for those unwilling to journey through Nicks’ vast catalog.
After just wrapping 220 dates with Fleetwood Mac, Nicks told the crowd that she wasn’t touring to promote a new project and had no plans to play any new music. Instead, she invited the room to go on a journey through her “dark Gothic trunk of lost songs,” pausing between songs to share an anecdote or history attached to each one -admittedly some longer than others. Behind her, a multi-media screen displayed old photos, video montages and psychedelic graphics. Several songs, including a beautiful piece titled “New Orleans, had never been played live until this tour.
“New Orleans” was originally written by Nicks as a poem in response to Hurricane Katrina. Nicks was relaxing in her “beautiful Spanish-style home” when an emergency news bulletin about an approaching catastrophic storm caught her ear. She spent the next several days glued to the coverage and despite the gravity of the event, she decided to view it from a positive perspective. Yes, the damage would be horrific but the will rebuild. Yes, many people would lose their lives but many won’t. There would be hope and saviors to help restore the city’s vibrancy.
Nicks also shared a very personal “Prince story” about her first meeting with the Purple One and how her song “Stand Back” was conceived to “Little Corvette.” She was driving around LA the first time she recalls hearing his famous song from 1999. She began writing her own melody and lyrics to his track. Her husband at the time (the marriage lasted a mere three weeks) told Nicks she couldn’t write a song to a song belonging to another artist. “Yes, I can,” she said. ‘I’m doing it right now.”
It took some effort and more than a little courage for Nicks to reach out to Prince in the hopes of sharing her song with him. She managed to track him down in LA and he arrived at the studio 20 minutes later “in full Prince regalia.” Prince loved the track and agreed to play synthesizer and guitar on the track before driving off in what she remembers was a purple Camaro.
Besides music, Nicks said she always felt a special kinship to Prince. He looked out for her during her public struggles with substance abuse. After his death, she told the crowd she often spoke to him and when nerves would get the best of her before a show, she would say, “Prince, walk with me. And he does.”
Of course, Nicks was gracious in giving the hungry fans a healthy dose of the favorites including Stop Dragging my Heart Around (which was supposed to include a walk-in from Hynde to sing Tom Petty’s part but was adeptly handled by her guitarist), Gypsy, Bella Donna, Stand Back, Edge of Seventeen and Gold Dust Woman, complete with the trippy, tribal drum stomp, and a deserving encore of Rhiannon and Landslide.
While Hynde’s presence was missed, there was need only for one queen and Stevie Nicks reigned supreme, proving she is still larger than life with a voice and spirit that can fill any room.