By way of introduction to “Gypsy,” a song from her former band, Stevie Nicks recalled how she would center herself when, as she put it, she “got a big head about the Fleetwood Mac thing.” She would take the mattress from her bed, set it on the floor, festoon it with draperies and pillows, and then sit down in the middle, reminding herself, “I am still Stevie.” It was a humbling moment, undercut by her comment that she has beds on the floor in “all of her houses.”
But to Climate Pledge Arena crowd witnessing the opening night of Nicks’ spring concert tour (tickets are available here), the slight 74-year-old on stage was hardly just Stevie. This was the gypsy. The bella donna. The witchy woman. The blonde beauty that launched a dozen Lindsay Buckingham songs and inspired Walter Egan’s 1978 smash, “Magnet and Steel.” The iconic figure who could send the crowd reeling simply by spinning around in a circle billowing out one of the many colorful shawls she sported throughout the evening in Seattle.
Nice as it was to imagine her quietly meditating on the floor, from the audience’s worshipful cheers and thoughtfully chosen outfits (leather and lace, velvet and denim, and lots of top hats), the woman on stage will always be more than just Stevie.
Nicks did a lot of spinning on Wednesday night. She reacted to the music ecstatically, moving about the stage nimbly in spite of an apparent broken toe that forced her to forgo her usual high heels for more sensible shoes. “Goodbye Di Fabrizio, hello Balenciaga,” she quipped. At points throughout the evening, especially during the psychedelic coda of a particularly intense rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” she appeared possessed, enraptured. At the end of the song, she stood at the back of the stage lit by a spotlight, arms akimbo, and looking like she might levitate off the stage at any moment.
She remained earthbound however, grounded by humanizing moments throughout the night. She slipped off stage regularly, likely to recharge in some fashion before a particularly demanding song. And her voice has been audibly tempered by decades of use and abuse. She can no longer hit the high notes in “Dreams,” but that’s what backup singers are for.
There was a sense that Nicks was returning to the stage to deal with some unfinished emotional business. For the most part, she let the gigantic video screen on stage do most of the talking on that front. Though she referenced the war in Ukraine when introducing the raging “Soldier’s Angel,” commenting that Zelensky’s forces were “fighting for all of us,” the power of the moment came from the clips and photos of the conflict that spooled out behind her. Photos of Prince were intercut with animated images of doves throughout the performance of fan favorite, “Edge of Seventeen.”
But two of her friends and collaborators seemed foremost on her mind. The presence of the late Tom Petty loomed large over the evening. Her band took the stage to the sound of “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Her classic duet with Petty, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” was placed prominently in the early moments of the 90-minute set, as legendary guitarist Waddy Wachtel, a member of Nicks’ airtight touring band, handled the other vocal part. And to kick off the encore, she leaned into a poignant rendition of “Free Fallin’,” complete with photos of Nicks and Petty sharing stages and a microphones.
The emotion finally spilled over at the end of the night when Nicks started to choke up as she commented that this concert was one of her first times on stage since the death of her Fleetwood Mac bandmate, Christine McVie.
That moment — and the nods to her fallen comrades — went from far beyond a simple tribute. The compounded losses appeared to have given Nicks a stronger urge to make even a fleeting emotional connection with the people around her, be that her backing band or the thousands of ticketholders before her.
As the band settled into a taut groove, extending out the final minutes of “Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks made her way to each member of the group, holding their hand briefly or simply locking eyes. She then moved to the lip of the stage, waving and interacting with the audience in hopes of fostering that strange but powerful artist/fan relationship. Feeding them the hits and basking in their applause wasn’t nearly enough; Nicks sought to make as many people as she could feel seen and appreciated. Further proof that no matter what she may tell herself, she will never be just Stevie.
Nicks’ 2023 headlining tour continues through June, and she’s also joining Billy Joel for the “Two Icons, One Night” co-headlining trek. Tickets to all of her shows are available here.
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)
I Sing for the Things
Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Sara (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Edge of Seventeen
Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)
Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover)