Saturday Night: Stevie Nicks At The Woodlands

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Stevie Nicks Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 13, 2011

Aftermath can't help but wonder if the people who think Stevie Nicks is some kind of wand-waving white-witch faerie queen have paid much attention to anything she's done besides "Rihannon." Not that Nicks didn't give those Woodlands creatures what they wanted Saturday; we were just a wee bit surprised at what else she gave them.

To bend the title of one of her albums, Nicks didn't rock a little Saturday. She rocked a lot.

Nicks is not going to make Lita Ford or Joan Jett (and probably not even Pat Benatar) cast any defensive spells around their amplifiers. Probably. But "Stand Back," a wicked wind-machine workout of an opener, and the new "Ghosts are Gone" had a much sharper hard-rock edge to them than we expected, like Nicks was hiding razor-blade fingernails in her fingerless gloves.

Truthfully, Nicks - blonde, beskirted and bewitching as ever at 63 - needed no other talisman than Waddy Wachtel, longtime L.A. session guru and Keith Richards' onetime co-pirate in the X-Pensive Winos. The white-haired guitar warlock on Nicks' sinister side (to those of us in the audience) lent a touch of Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper, never more than on the extended introduction/incantation to "Edge of Seventeen" that threatened to fan some bubbly Deep Purple smoke on the water.

But Wachtel also had the possibly thankless task of tolling up the stark electric chords to accompany "Soldier's Angel," the song from Nicks' new album In My Dreams she wrote after a visit to Walter Reed hospital - including an up-close MASH-unit encounter on the way out that left her visibly shaken, even Saturday - during which she shapeshifts from angel to widow to mother to nurse.

The other spellbinding moment Saturday was "Gold Dust Woman." Wachtel conjured psychedelic L.A. flesh memories from Morrison Hotel and Love's Forever Changes, as Nicks spun her golden shawl-clad self into spasms of interpretive dance as she spun the song said to feature a woman sobbing as one of its multitude of tracks into a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the fate of Amy Winehouse.

"People didn't see her," Nicks said after several minutes of incantation-like lyrics that were nearly lifted word for word from The Who's "Tommy."

The rest of the evening was more standard Stevie, less gripping but no less enchanting. She is forever the cool rock and roll aunt who, as long as you don't spill anything on her shawl, will tell you tales of woodland nymphs, players who only love you when they're playing, and vampires in the moonlight until well after the witching hour.

But was that a hint of a fang in her smile? Only Stevie Nicks knows for sure.

Personal Bias: Aftermath saw the final Harry Potter movie weekend before last and is now re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Again. We suspect it may be affecting our work.

The Crowd: About 75 percent female and over 40; 100 percent devoted.

Overheard In the Crowd: "I love you, Stevie!" "Get in line!" - between-song dialogue between two dudebrahs in our row.

Random Notebook Dump: Um... we thought she'd be taller? Sorry, didn't really take a lot of notes at this one.


Stand Back Secret Love Dreams Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream) Gold Dust Woman Soldier's Angel Annabel Lee For What It's Worth Rihannon Landslide Ghosts Are Gone Leather and Lace Edge of Seventeen


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