SALT LAKE CITY — She is rock royalty. She has written some of rock’s most iconic songs over the past four decades. And Utah can claim her as one of our own.
“It’s so good to be back,” Stevie Nicks told a near capacity Vivint Smart Home Arena on Saturday night.
And while both Nicks and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders (who opened the show) are now in their mid to upper 60’s, both women showed Saturday that their voices are as timeless as their songs.
Without her Fleetwood Mac bandmates by her side, the stage was all Nicks’ on Saturday. Her show was part music and part storytellers format. For more than two hours, Nicks performed Mac classics, her biggest solo hits, pulled out selections from from her “gothic trunk of lost songs,” as she called it – playing songs that had never been performed live prior to this tour – and told numerous stories about the stories behind those songs. Her tales included vignettes about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Prince, and her 8th and 9th grade years at Wasatch Junior High School.
After starting the show with “Gold and Braid,” Nicks talked about her years of living in the Olympus Hills area in the early ‘60s. She recalled how her mother told her if she didn’t get at least a B in middle school that she would send her to the Catholic school in Salt Lake City. Sure enough, Nicks managed to get less than a B and was sent to the old St. Mary of the Wasatch Catholic High School, where she said she had a blast. Nicks also gave several shoutouts during the show to her best friend from those years, Karen Thornhill, who still lives in Utah and was at Saturday night’s show. (Read more about Thornhill’s memories of growing up with Stephanie Nicks).
Other entertaining stories included how Nicks got her solo career started and had to balance splitting her time between that and Fleetwood Mac. When writing what would be become 1981’s Bella Donna, her first solo album, the record company executives told her that she didn’t have a “hit single.” So they teamed her up with one of her heroes, Tom Petty, who wrote and performed “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with her. On Saturday night, Hynde performed the song with Nicks.
Nicks also recalled how she wanted to prove that the success of Bella Donna wasn’t a fluke and that it didn’t happen only because it rode the coat tails of some of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest years. When she released The Wild Heart in 1983 and it too achieved great success, Nicks knew she could have a solo career in addition to being in Fleetwood Mac.
Saturday night, Nicks played a heavy selection from those albums – many of which are her best known solo songs – including the title tracks of both albums, “If Anyone Falls,” “Edge of Seventeen” and “Stand Back.”
Nicks also recounted the story of how “Stand Back” was actually her lyrics written to the music of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and how she wrote the song on her honeymoon (yes, Nicks was briefly married) immediately after hearing the Prince song on the radio. She then called Prince, whom she had met years earlier before he also became a superstar, and he agreed to meet her in the recording studio 15 minutes later. Prince ended up playing on the song and gave the Nicks version his blessing.
Nicks also played tribute to Prince on the giant digital screen that flanked the stage for “Edge of Seventeen.” Nicks has stated previously that the symbolic lyrics represent a dove and the spirit leaving the body.
At one point during the show, after another lengthy but entertaining story, Nicks jokingly said years from now, she’ll just be on stage telling stories without any music. Though, somehow one would have to think she would sell out arenas for that tour too.
Other songs and stories by Nicks on Saturday night included:
*”New Orleans” was inspired by watching the news reports as Hurricane Katrina demolished the city.
*“Moonlight” was inspired by accidentally watching (and soon loving) the “Twilight” movie saga. Nicks said this song also inspired her to record another solo album after years of not doing it.
*“Starshine” also came from the “gothic trunk,” the place Nicks metaphorically referred to where she stored songs that she had written or even recorded but then never released. “Starshine” was another Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers collaboration from the early ‘80s that was never released. Mike Campbell’s guitar, Benmont Tench’s keys and Stan Lynch’s drum work could easily be heard on this upbeat number.
Nicks and her longtime solo bandmates, including Waddy Wachtel on guitar and the backing vocals of Sharon Celani, also pulled out “Crying in the Night” from the gothic chest, a song off of 1973’s Buckingham Nicks album that she and Lindsey recorded before joining Fleetwood Mac.
Nicks also played a few Mac classics, songs that she said she knows she has to play at every show whether it’s with her solo band or Fleetwood Mac. “Gypsy,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” were among the crowd favorites. Though after staying in Park City for the past 48 hours, Nicks admitted she should have written the song while living in Utah and not during a short visit she had many years ago to Aspen, Colorado.
Whether she is with Fleetwood Mac, playing her solo songs, or just telling stories, Nicks is the queen of rock and roll. She is highly entertaining and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s her magic that fans will come out everytime to see.
Speaking of showing no signs of slowing down, Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders put the rock in the rock show Saturday night. Some may even argue that she outperformed Nicks. Hynde’s vocals were strong and her energy level was high. Hynde, a noted vegan, looked as physically fit as she did in the ’70s and ‘80s as she moved about the stage playing “Back on the Chain Gang,” “I’ll Stand by You,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” “Middle of the Road” and “Brass in Pocket.”