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Nicks Gives Mann Fans What They Came For

Posted: August 29, 1989 

 

In the peculiar world of pop stars, Michael Jackson may be bad, but only Stevie Nicks can lay claim to being baah-ed. No doubt about it, when Nicks was shopping for a boyish nickname, she should have skipped Stevie and gone for Billie. It's much better suited to her goat-like bray of a voice.

That beguiling cross of a burr and a purr served as a siren song for Nicks' considerable flock of fans, nearly 20,000 of whom packed the barn-like Mann Music Center last night.

The show proved a holistic hoe-down full of spacey new-age sentiment and largely restrained pop that kept the audience swaying and occasionally stomping. Offering a nice balance of old hits and tunes from her somewhat lackluster current LP, The Other Side of the Mirror, Nicks gave the crowd exactly what they expected.

That's hardly surprising, because in sharp contrast to the likes of Michael Jackson, Nicks has refused to retool her look and sound in order to capitalize on passing fads. She's still the hippie-dippy, shawl-sporting gal of 1981's Bella Donna, her first solo side project to Fleetwood Mac.

Last night, Nicks mixed her two standard song types - flaky femme-ballads like "Alice" and "Juliette," and gritty rockers such as "Edge of Seventeen" and "Whole Lotta Trouble" - into a rather pleasing musical granola.

But while the consistency of Nicks' music and moony vision over time suggests a certain personal integrity, it also led to a bit of monotony as the similar tinkling keyboards, surging guitars and overlapping background vocals of various tunes blended into a comfortable but unstimulating blanket of sound. A particularly bad pacing decision placed nearly all of the upbeat songs in the performance's final third.

While many of the show's early ballads called up images from Alice in Wonderland, Nicks' show could well be named for another fantasy tale, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Nicks left the stage after virtually every song to don a new frock. Should her singing career ever fizzle, Nicks has enough capes to open a Bat-boutique.