Most people were winding things down on Monday night in Los Angeles yesterday, but the streets near the Hollywood Bowl were buzzing with thousands of fans doing their best Stevie Nicks impressions. They wandered toward the venue, paying homage to the rock star’s many eras, wearing outfits that captured her effortless Southern California Seventies glam or showing off examples of her witchy drapery, capturing the style and spirit that make Nicks a timeless icon.
Those fans were there to attend her sold-out show at the historic venue on Monday evening. The performance was part of a tour she kicked off earlier this year, which she’s scheduled in spurts between festival sets and shows at select US cities.
Nicks’ longtime friend Vanessa Carlton opened the night with a brief set that, of course, included a venue-wide sing-along to “A Thousand Miles.” Shortly before 9 p.m., the stage lights dimmed and Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” blasted from the sound system. It would be the first of many touching tributes to Petty, who made Nicks an honorary Heartbreaker. It’s an gesture she’s taken seriously ever since.
Nicks’ setlist focused heavily on Bella Donna, The Wild Heart and her Fleetwood Mac classics, a decade-long stretch of career home-runs that showed she was a living legend before time had the chance to do so itself. After opening with “Outside the Rain,” she got “Dreams” out of the way, prompting a beautiful bit of harmonizing from the audience.
Any fan of Nicks knows that she’s a natural born storyteller, and on stage and in interviews, she’s more than happy to share long-winded tales of her life, her songs, and her famous friends and lovers. Early on, Nicks made a promise that she would rein it in for the night with her stories, even though this particular show had an audience full of some of her closest confidantes.”I have so much to say,” she promised. Some fans giggled and would have been happy to bask in as many tales she would have liked to spin.
She made good on her promise to keep it short and sweet, though: Before “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” her hit 1981 duet with Petty, she recalled how her producer and then-boyfriend Jimmy Iovine (who was seated in the crowd) told her she needed a single for her solo debut. He then clued her in on the Petty-penned track. Just as she launched into her recently released cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” she sang the praises of songwriter Stephen Stills. And she prefaced a twirl-filled “Gypsy” with some life advice about pulling your mattress off the bed frame to remind yourself who you are. Later, she dedicated In Your Dreams’ “Soldier’s Angel” to the people of Ukraine, singing it in tribute to one Ukrainian woman, in particular, named Julia who had sent Nicks a paining of sunflowers that she displayed on screen as the song began.
As Nicks sang her way through her past, she continued to breathe new life into some of rock music’s most classic and enduring songs. She belted “Wild Heart” as effortlessly as she did nearly 40 years ago (after dedicating it to comedian Kathy Griffin, naturally). During “Gold Dust Woman,” she embodied the same feverish, frenetic stage presence that made her Seventies performances of the song so iconic, moving as if possessed by the guitar solo while wrapped in a golden shawl (one of four she pulled out during the night, including the blue one she wore on the back cover of Bella Donna).
The final stretch of the show was an unrelenting series of hits. “Landslide” was dedicated to her many godchildren as well as John McVie, her close friend and “therapist.” The main set concluded with an extended cut of “Edge of Seventeen,” before the encored kicked back off with a cover of Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” The song fit her like a glove, a true tribute to one of her best friends and musical heroes, whose likeness was displayed on a slideshow behind Nicks as she sang it. She ended the song by staring at some lingering shots of the him and her together, performing on stage later in his life.
Unlike other shows on this tour, Nicks skipped frequent show closer “Rock and Roll” (a cover of the Led Zeppelin classic) in favor of her own “Rhiannon,” a more fitting finale. The Bowl’s attendees ranged from teens to Boomers, and in that moment, like many before it, it didn’t matter how or when Nicks’ songs found their way into your life. The show erupted into one final, loud, sing-along before the truly timeless star twirled off into the California night.