Stevie Nicks / The Pretenders Rogers Arena, Vancouver BC, December 9
Published Dec 10, 2016Vancouver welcomed two of music's most celebrated and iconic rock stars Friday night amidst unusual amounts of snow and the buzzing of impending witchy enchantment. Both Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde — ages 68 and 65 respectfully — were in fine form, showing no signs of slowing down, but rather hopeful for a full future with the continued support of their fans and the freedom to explore their vast musical repertoires.
This goes doubly for Nicks, whose voice could not have been more raggedly perfect and who opened up her "dark mystical gothic trunk of songs" for her pet project the 24 Karat Gold tour. Determined not to give her beloved fans the same old tired Stevie set list they have no doubt heard countless times over the years, Nicks pulled out some demo gems.
Nicks' choice to put Hynde and the Pretenders in the opening hour-long slot set the tone for a female-rocker infused journey. The Pretenders were the light part of the show, not able to entirely escape that aged rock star persona associated with so many successful '80s musicians nowadays. From the Kinks cover of "Stop Your Sobbing" that brought them their first hit, to fan favourites "Middle of the Road" — wherein Hynde delightfully whipped out the harmonica — and "Brass in Pocket," the group certainly gave fans what they were looking for, but nothing further.
Alternatively, Nicks has built up a persona so impenetrable and mysterious that the term "aged rock star" could never apply to her. Thrilled at the notion of Vancouverites not experiencing snow often (her limo driver told her), Nicks promised the packed Rogers Arena a "journey through the snow." Donning a black flowing dress and playing with glittering scarves, Nicks gave continuous background narrative to the early days of her solo career.
While giant light bulbs bobbed up and down from the ceiling and images of moons and dancers were projected onto the screen behind her, the warm and funny Fleetwood Mac alumnus reflected fondly on her relationships with the likes of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and her late friend Prince. The former gave her her first single "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," which Hydne joined in for.
From there Nicks took the crowd on a witchy tour; between "Bella Donna" and the more recent "New Orleans," Nicks pulled everyone into her world of femme fatale notions and rock'n'roll nostalgia. Gleefully showing the crowd that she still had the original Bella Donna silk chiffon cape, the blond chanteuse conjured up memories of her short but impressive 1981 tour and the long-lasting determination to prove that her initial solo success was not a fluke.
Wielding a signature tambourine and flailing her arms about, Nicks gave onlookers "Starshine," a song co-written with Petty but never released. When she ripped into the thundering and epic "Edge of Seventeen," Nicks paid tribute to the wonderful man in purple with a Prince photomontage on the big screen interspersed with images of doves.
Perhaps one of the most endearing parts of this tour is the presence of longtime friend, musical director and session musician Waddy Wachtel. Having been alongside Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham from their early days in L.A. to countless recordings and tours with Nicks, Watchel is a continuous presence that helps to connect Nicks to her early days as a commercial success, while also giving her solid guitar backing.
Ending with the always lovely "Rhiannon" and "Landslide," Nicks alone was projected onto the screen in all her caped glory, as if to speak directly to each adoring fan. This tour has shown that Nicks' particular brand of stage presence and mystical persona does not get old, but rather appears fresh in its own way. Her vampy vocals and forlorn writing style continue to penetrate the hearts of multiple generations and it's clear that her trunk of songs is not limited to Fleetwood Mac and '70s hits.