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Stevie Nicks

by Kirsten Ferguson on September 7, 2011 · 1 comment

SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, AUG. 30

“Destination Unknown,” a near-forgotten hit for the ’80s new-wave band Missing Persons, blared from the sound system before Stevie Nicks charged onstage at SPAC last Tuesday night. Her preshow opener for this summer’s “In Your Dreams” tour, the sparkly synth classic asks, “Where do we go from here?”

Nicks followed it with one of her best-known ’80s songs, the barn-burning “Stand Back,” which had fans immediately standing up out of their seats. Although this show had lots of conditions attached to it—no lawn seats were to be sold, and fans were not to take photos or videos—all Nicks had to do was twirl her red cloak and the place exploded. (People then waited patiently for Nicks’ assistant to arrive on the scene and extricate the singer from the glittery garment when she got stuck in it).

But Nicks’ real purpose for the night was introducing her longtime fans to a batch of tunes that may have been unknown to them. “Tonight’s show is not going to be the same show you’ve seen in the past,” she announced. “I’m out on the road to play songs from my new record. I really believe in it.”

It’s always a challenge for a well-loved artist on a summer amphitheater tour—when audiences anticipate the hits—to showcase new material; a poorly sequenced set can kill a feel-good vibe dead. But Nicks and her well-honed nine-piece band seemed to hit upon the right formula during this tour: For nearly every tune from the Dave Stewart-produced In Your Dreams, released in May to good sales and positive reviews, they rewarded the audience’s attention by following with a smash from the past.

It helped that the new material merged fairly seamlessly with the well-known songs from Nicks’ solo albums and career with Fleetwood Mac. Nicks danced with her back to the crowd during “Secret Love,” a dreamy number from In Your Dreams, her blonde hair and black tunic flowing like the fairytale princess depiction of her on the album’s cover. She followed with the ethereal “Dreams,” introducing it as the “only number-one single that Fleetwood Mac ever had.”

After the wistful, piano-driven new ballad “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream),” Nicks emerged in a gold wrap for the signature Fleetwood Mac tune “Gold Dust Woman” (rumored to be about the singer’s past troubles with cocaine). And the newly recorded songs of “Soldier’s Angel,” inspired by the singer’s unforgettable visit to the Walter Reed military hospital, “Annabel Lee,” adapted from a poem by Edgar Allen Poe, and album single “For What It’s Worth,” were followed by thrilling versions of Fleetwood Mac classics “Rhiannon” and “Landslide.”

The audience cheered every twirl and costume change she made, on both new song and old; after closing with her massive hit, “Edge of Seventeen,” and before ending with an encore of the heartfelt “Love Is,” from her 2001 solo album, Trouble in Shangri-La, she walked across the stage, accompanied by an assistant/bodyguard to accept gifts of flowers, artwork and stuffed animals from the adoring fans in the front row.

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