When it comes to shawls, the line between gypsy and grandma is a thin one. Performing on her 65th birthday, former ’70s-era ethereal goddess Stevie Nicks straddled that line with heavy feet. Suffering from a knee ailment, Nicks kept her famous twirling to a minimum and moved on and off stage with a slight limp. When the audience spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday” after “Landslide,” Nicks shooed them silent, saying that you could only wish her a happy un-birthday because she wasn’t celebrating her birthday.
Despite Nicks’ desire to ignore the passage of time, the evening was all about looking back … and sometimes forward. Sure, there were the classic hits, including “Second Hand News,” “Dreams,” “Rhiannon,” “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop.” But old issues were also brought up anew: Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham defended the artistic merits of 1979’s commercial flop Tusk as if he were justifying it to a studio executive; Nicks thanked drummer Mick Fleetwood for letting her join the band as if she were a new arrival; and Nicks and Buckingham harkened back to their long-dead romance by dancing together. The future came in the form of two songs (“Sad Angel” and “Without You”) from Extended Play, their new EP.
Unfortunately, Nicks’ voice hasn’t weathered the years unscathed. Her distinctive sound has become yet even more distinctive by way of an increased muted nasal quality. At some points she seemed to miss notes. The songs no longer perfectly matched those old albums, but that’s OK, because it was real.
Buckingham, on the other hand, still soared on vocals and astounded on guitar, often allowing his voice to overpower Nicks’ on harmonies. Fleetwood charmed as an impish renaissance Santa Claus with a mighty drum solo on “World Turning.”
After two encores and a two-and-a-half-hour show, these musicians already couldn’t let go of the (very near) past. When the music had stopped and while the audience was fleeing, Nicks gave a New Age-y speech about how the fans were her “dream catchers.” When she was done, Fleetwood replaced her with a speech of his own, entreating all to remember that the “Mac is back.” As if we could ever forget. ★★★☆☆