“like a white winged dove”, Stevie Nicks

To be a bit of silk on a draft, a pair of wings beating against the air, the centrifugal force of a pirouette, Stevie Nicks in the moment. For it's that feather in the wind that is carried in spite of itself -- and feels the current as it's weightlessly conveyed to another place -- and is transformed in the moment that is what we aspire to when we embrace the leather and lace, sparkles and velvet. Towards the end of her set, Nicks vamped on the friends and lovers she has known -- "poets... priests of nothing... legends." It was a full-throated mantra, an incantation sung over and over, moaned as an answer and a truth of defining how the potency of those who marked her life emerged from the mist. And while for Nicks, those people were most likely bold-faced names, her plea and her definition was the lower case truth of anyone who ever impacted a life -- for everyone who writes their name across one's soul or psyche can most certainly defined as any of the above. And that has always been the beauty of Stephanie Louise Nicks, the Greyhound executive'd daughter and twirling diva with the sparkle in those too big eyes that take everything in. She transforms anyone, anything that crossed her vision into the most charmed and mythical. Stevie Nicks, still the Welsh Witch in black diaphonousness and whirling shawls, has made a life out of gypsy's truth and making magic for suburban dreamers who want something mystical with their muscular guitars and anthemic choruses. The balletomane has fashioned a reality that has nurtured her creative spirit and given quarter to three generations of romantics, and they'd all turned out for Nicks' stand at the Amsouth Pavillion. With the lightning flashing, "Dreams" washed over the crowd as much a cautionary truth about what we get our hearts into and what our hearts lead us towards. Desires and hungers are the things we crave, even as they have the potential to destroy us -- and that is the tightrope to be scaled: the wanting and the needing. Wants and needs have always defined Stevie Nicks' writing, a whirling, churning series of images that always add up to finding, connecting or losing something close to the heart. There may be that patina of enchantment that sparkles across the surface of what Nicks serves up, but there is always that insight into the human heart that connects her to the non-starry-eyed in a way that tells truth far more clearly than even the Patti Smiths or Elvis Costellos -- brilliantly direct writers both. Balancing Fleetwood Mac classics -- "Rhiannon," "Gold Dust Woman" --with early solo material -- "Edge of 17," "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" -- and a healthy sampling of songs from her brand new Trouble In Shangri-La, Nicks wove a spell that was as much about mood as it was music. Not a séance, not a channeling, not even a pajama party with all the lamps drapped in scarves, there was a spirituality conjured that took her fans to a more open place. Whether it was the redneck girl with the tattoo and the name on the back of her belt, the mothers and daughters, the college girlfriends, the yuppie men coming in homage to their once objet du lust, the gentle swaying and lifted lighters were as much a coming together as they were some spasm of catharsis. Nicks was a gentle spirit, one who asked her audience to "know that those lost in the terrible thing are always here with us, but please surrender to the music and let it take you." Knee deep in a funky, funky "Stand Back," Nicks threw down -- her ad hoc wails on the end of the Prince-penned undulator demonstrating that her husky, musky alto is as imbued with blood and sweat and jagged edge as ever. Bringing Sheryl Crow out onstage with her -- the younger star basking in the grace and glow of her hero -- it was like watching a master and favorite pupil pushing, rather than an old-timer leaning on the reflected glory of the now! wow! star for some kind of relevance. At times, gentle and even lulling, there was that hush of not wanting to break the spell. At other times, the frenzy of rock and roll took the pavilion and rolled onto the lawn, jolting the crowd to their feet and drawing out a bit of the kick inside. Nicks moves easily from the rooms of attitudes and emotions, rushing from a hurt to a thrill, a caress to a want, a bitter admonishment to a confession of desire. A rollercoaster of feelings, Nicks did what she did best: connect the dots of the various sentiments that comprise our lives and loves. It can be a fairly messy process, but Nicks wears it well -- and her fans revere her for the bravery and vulnerability that it takes. If the fans weren't so conversant in Shangri-La as a work, the songs were delivered with enough verve to make a case for concert-tour as sales instigator. "Fall From Grace" rocked with the insistence of her most compelling heavy-hitters, while "Too Far From Texas" pined without self-consciousness and the burning "Sorcerer" captured the conflicts of arriving in Shangri-La unsure and looking for the yellow brick road -- excitement, fear, the need to survive and the will to thrive. Crow, dressed in low slung leather pants and a cutaway on the sides top with red roses, delivered a bottomy "My Favorite Mistake" and an accelerated "Every Day Is A Winding Road" that were as loose and as freewheeling as anything done on her own tours. And the pairing of diva and demi-diva on an encore of Tom Petty's "I Need To Know" put the urgency of the female rock and roll existence into brilliant perspective. But it was when Nicks finally finished the evening with the somewhat obscure "Has Anyone Written Anything For You" that the crystaline beauty of what she brings to the table becomes clear. A song of unabashed want -- but the want to give to someone else, to celebrate what makes them special, to fill a need elsewhere -- "Has Anyone…" defines the brightest light in her heaven: for this is a song that demonstrates that it's in giving our grace and beauty away that we gain everything we could ever want. In that moment, in that catch-voiced tug of an offer, a query, a need to shine the light on someone else's magic, the black-draped one shows us where the real connections are. Nicks, who once confessed to "being taken by the wind," is more a sage who's been taken by the songs. Old enough to merely inhabit her place as muse with grace, she is still out there, taking it to the hilt each night. Her songs are her children -- and she forcefully witnesses their truths as much for herself as others. We should all age so passionately. -- Holly Gleason Nashville, Tennessee
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