NY Daily News 6-19-98

Nicks Is A Whirl Apart
By Jim Farber

She's still twirling. At age 50, Stevie Nicks has no intention of denying fans the sight of her extending both arms and spinning dizzily around, offering a 360-degree view of the kind of lace shawls and bejeweled gowns that seem ripped right out of a Golden Book on the adventures of a fairy princess.

In an equally fanciful move, at the star's Radio City show on Wednesday she repeatedly referred to her characters as if they were real. "She thanks you, the Gold Dust Woman," Nicks said at one point. At another: "Rhiannon, she just rolls with the punches after all these years."

You can either giggle or bow down after hearing lines like this, and the repertoire this night catered to those most likely to do the latter. For her first solo tour since last fall's excellent Fleetwood Mac reunion, Nicks lugged out her dustiest dresser full of songs, culled from her box set, "Enchanted." (Nicks let us know what we were in for right at the start of the show by having someone slowly read the dictionary definition of the album's title.)

Along with performing the expected hits (from "Landslide" to "Edge of 17"), Nicks stressed curios like "Gold and Braid," with its muscular R & B bass line, or "Whole Lotta Trouble," a clunky piece of '80s hair metal.

The latter title proved sadly resonant. Much of Nicks' solo material suffers from its origins in the '80s. Many songs favor dated synthesizer lines and cornball guitar solos, leaned into by her band at this concert. Her seven backup musicians blared and brayed, making her songs sound tackier than they had to. It made for an especially poor comparison to Mac's stellar comeback.

At least Nicks' voice held its power from that tour. The old billy-goat waver has steadied and her '80s nasality has cleared. She came across best in "Landslide," which offers her most gracious melody and honest lyric, as well as in a trilogy of well-chosen acoustic numbers that explored her earliest and most naive dreams of fame and stardom.

In "After the Glitter Fades" she dealt with the consequences of L.A. high life. In "Garbo" she pondered her own potential glamor, and in "Rose Garden" she worried that career success would ruin her chances for love. Together, they mined Nicks' most fascinating angle, her struggle with the power and limitations of femininity.

Yet it's the silliest side of Nicks' character that makes her so endearing. Namely, her knowing insistence on dressing up like an over-age Guinevere, on invoking fairies and dragons in her lyrics, and in making an extremely young person's notion of glamor and romance endure.

Thanks to CL Moon for sending this article to us.