Stevie Nicks finished up “Bella Donna” at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre Wednesday night and proudly showed off her cape to the sold-out crowd of 12,000 fans. “It’s the original cape from the back of the album 40 years ago,” she said. “It’s in perfect condition.”
Clothes can be kept in near perfect shape for decades if properly cared for. Nicks is trying her best, at age 74, to keep her own physical being and vocal chops as pristine as that cape. But it’s a perpetual, grinding challenge.
Just last week, NIcks postponed a concert in Phoenix after coming down with a non-COVID-19-related respiratory illness. Doctors recommended vocal rest. In August 2021, she canceled several concert dates, including a stop at the Shaky Knees festival in Atlanta, as a precaution after a variant caused an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Fortunately, on this particular night, Nicks looked good, sounded great and provided the audience a top-notch performance of over 100 minutes with her signature blend of grace, majesty and a smidgen of grittiness. Her singularity as an iconic artist has not dimmed as songs like “Dreams” (a TikTok sensation in 2020) and “Rhiannon” have lost none of their luster.
Her 16-song set, which hasn’t varied much during her fall tour, featured most of her solo hits including the criminally underrated “If Anyone Falls,” a few choice album cuts such as the delightful “Enchanted,” two covers (one honoring a Stephen Stills-penned song she worshipped in the 1960s “For What It’s Worth”) and five legendary Fleetwood Mac smashes she wrote herself.
She was chipper and gabby between songs, explaining the origins of a few of them, probably for the 1,000th time but acting as if she had never told those well-worn stories before. She recalled that her father used to travel a lot when she was a young girl and would tell her and her mom “the most beautiful women in the world are from Atlanta.” She never lived in Atlanta so, she noted with a chuckle, that this “kept us out of the running.”
Her most serious moment came introducing her emotionally nuanced “Soldier’s Angels,” which she wrote a few years to honor the military and those who support them, inspired after visiting soldiers in a veterans hospital in 2005. Her former Fleetwood Mac colleague and lover Lindsey Buckingham in 2011 helped her finish the song. In Atlanta, she passionately dedicated the tune to Ukraine, showing photos of the war there while she sang.
And this isn’t to say she was as spry as she was in her MTV days. Nicks made vocal concessions on “Stand Back,” ceding some higher notes to her back-up singers. And her twirling during “Gypsy” was a bit less emphatic and free flowing than it once was.
But she whipped herself into a frenzy during a nine-minute version of “Gold Dust Woman” and gave her band a chance to jam for a tour de force 10-minute extended take on “Edge of Seventeen,” a rock anthem that features one of the most terrific guitar riffs in history, played with gusto by session guitarist Waddy Wachtel.
Credit: RODNEY HO/rhoa
Credit: RODNEY HO/rhoa
The concert was also in many ways a tribute to her late friend Tom Petty who died in 2017. The band entered the stage to Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Nicks early on sang “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a hit duet she said Petty gave her that jumpstarted her solo career. During the encore, she covered Petty’s 1989 bittersweet sing-along “Free Fallin’” while images of Petty were projected behind her. And as the crowd began leaving after she concluded the show, “Learning to Fly” wafted from the speakers.
While fellow raspy crooner Rod Stewart a few weeks ago made what was likely his final rock tour stop in Atlanta at Ameris, Nicks gave no indications she is getting off the road, expressing gratitude just to be back on stage again after the yawning quietude of the pandemic.
“I didn’t know if this would happen again,” she said. “I’m so happy it did. We’ll see you next time.”
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