Stevie Nicks Bewitches An Adoring Toyota Center

Rock icon Stevie Nicks wowed the audience at Toyota Center on Saturday.
Rock icon Stevie Nicks wowed the audience at Toyota Center on Saturday. Photo by Ralph Arvesen. Creative Commons.
Stevie Nicks
Toyota Center
August 12, 2023

"It’s just so great to be here."

There come's a point in a musician's career, 'round about the time they achieve "legendary" status, that they can pretty easily coast on past laurels. If you've succeeded in that industry for literal decades, you'd be forgiven for doing nothing more than taking the occasional victory lap and soaking up royalties.

Stevie Nicks has been admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both a member of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. She's sold millions upon millions of albums and has inspired who knows how many women (and men) with her iconoclastic persona and undeniable talent.

And perhaps more than any other artist of her era, we were privy to Nicks's personal life. No discussion of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours was complete without a deep dive into the band's internal dynamics. The combination of multi-platinum record sales and messy relationship shenanigans were too much for entertainment reporters to resist.

Nicks didn't have to do this show at all. She was just in Houston (at the Woodlands Pavilion) last fall, but was still welcomed by a near-sold out Toyota Center (I know I wasn't the only one happy she opted for an indoor venue this time).

It was also her first Houston appearance since the death of Fleetwood Mac bandmate and friend Christine McVie, and the loss definitely affected last night's performance. Not in any negative way, but in how effusive and appreciative Nicks was, especially during the closing song, "Landslide," which was accompanied by a video montage of McVie and Nicks (and others) through the years.

No Lindsay Buckingham, though. Go figure.

She was also quite the chatterbox after opening the show with "Outside the Rain" from her first (and still most successful) album, Bella Donna. There were loquacious intros for songs like "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" and "Fall From Grace." The latter a surprisingly rocking number from 2001's Trouble in Shangri-La.

Some of the biggest reactions, of course, were for the Fleetwood Mac songs, and even with her singing in a lower register, "Dreams" and "Edge of Seventeen" were powerful. Nicks also finally busted out The Dance (you know the one) for "Stand Back."

And then something kind of weird happened. Nicks introduced her rendition of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" as "the perfect gentlemen’s protest song." All well and good, until she then went on to reveal to the crowd that she didn't vote until she was 70 years old.

Nicks is 75. This means she couldn't be bothered to cast a ballot until 2018, missing out on the entirety of the '70s and '80s, not voting for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, and not voting for *Bill* Clinton, who used Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" as his campaign song. It took Trump to finally push her into realizing the real world implications of apathy and willful ignorance.

Welcome to the struggle, Stevie Nicks.

"Gypsy" was next, getting the audience back on its feet (to be fair, they stayed there most of the night), followed by "Wild Heart," which itself segued into "Bella Donna," and out came the cape. The *original* Bella Donna cape, mofos. Made of silk chiffon, because — according to Nicks — you should only get silk chiffon.

A side thought: maybe performers who have fans past ... a certain age could instruct the audiences to turn the LED lights on their phones off while they're filming. Last night was like a night sky in London during the Blitz.

Nicks closed out the regular set with "Soldier's Angel," a tribute to wounded vets that doubled as an appeal to "Save Ukraine," "Gold Dust Woman," "I Sing for the Things," and a rather apocalyptically themed "Edge of Seventeen," which also saw an appearance of the tambourine.

The encore offered Nicks a chance to work through some losses. In addition to the aforementioned "Landslide," she also covered Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." Nicks and Petty were friends since the '70s ("The Heartbreakers were the only other band I wanted to be in," as she put it), and it was a touching tribute. Though maybe it would've been more effective if she'd chosen a better song.

Seriously, "Wildflowers" was right there.

Nicks signed off by telling the crowd we were “super awesome!” She also allowed how performing these songs has helped her work through McVie's loss.

Personal Bias: "Sleeping Angel" is the best song on the Fast Times soundtrack and it's not even close.

The Crowd: As lacy as possible given the heat.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I thought there'd be more witches."

Random Notebook Dump: "Wouldst thou like to vote deliciously?"

Outside the Rain
Dreams (Fleetwood Mac song)
If Anyone Falls
Stop Draggin' My Heart Around
Fall From Grace
For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield cover)
Gypsy (Fleetwood Mac song)
Wild Heart
Bella Donna
Stand Back
Soldier's Angel
Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac song)
I Sing for the Things
Edge of Seventeen

Free Fallin' (Tom Petty cover)
Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac song)
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar