The Detroit News 7-6-01

Stevie's return Having conquered addiction and ennui, Nicks sheds her troubles for 'Shangri-La'

Stevie Nicks takes her wispy, mystical look and sound back on the road after eight years.

Stevie Nicks with Sheryl Crow, Jeffrey Gaines
7:30 p.m. Saturday
DTE Energy Music Theatre
7773 Pine Knob, Clarkston
Tickets $28, $68
Call (248) 377-0100

By Kevin Ransom / Special to The Detroit News

For most of her career, Stevie Nicks has reigned as the fairy princess of folk-pop, singing misty fables of witches, mystics and never-never lands. But there's another, more grounded side to her fanciful image -- that of survivor.

Nicks' new release, Trouble in Shangri-La, is her first solo album since 1993, an absence due mostly to her long addiction to the sedative Klonopin. "It's a horrible, dangerous drug," Nicks said during a recent interview with USA TODAY.

"My creativity went away. I became what I call the 'whatever' person. I didn't care about anything anymore. I got heavy. One day I looked in the mirror and said, 'I don't know you.' And I went straight to the hospital for 47 days."

Nicks kicked her eight-year addiction, lost the extra weight and got to work on the songs that would become Shangri-La. Now, she's taking her act back on the road, with a tour that comes to DTE Energy Theatre in Clarkston on Saturday. And, as evidenced by her publicity photos, she still looks fabulous.

Longtime Metro Detroit Nicks fan Liz Sawan, 23, of Roseville definitely plans to be in the crowd for tomorrow's show.

"I grew up on her music, and I think she's awesome," says Sawan. "Her stage show is really mystifying, and her voice is so haunting.

"There's so much more to her than just the hits. Her hits weren't even her best songs. And I just love the clothes she wears onstage."

On this tour, Nicks gets some help from a high-profile friend. The DTE stop is one of eight gigs on Nicks' current tour where she'll be joined onstage for part of her show by Sheryl Crow, who wrote one song for Shangri-La and co-produced five of the album's tracks.

Crow has long pointed to Nicks as one of her fem-rocker role models. "Stevie and Linda Ronstadt were the voices of my musical upbringing," Crow says. "I found a kindred spirit in Stevie. She was this earth-mother, mystical hippie that girls wanted to hang with and boys wanted to be with." Indeed. In the mid-1970s, when Nicks first found fame in Fleetwood Mac, her tousled mane, dusky vocals and pouty beauty helped turn her into one of pop's hottest sex symbols. But her penchant for gauzy myth-making, not to mention her flowing chiffon ballet skirt, also appealed to romantic young girls. As one of the group's three singers, Nicks helped complete the Mac's metamorphosis from a British rocking-blues band into a spiffy California pop act. Fleetwood Mac became the poster children for '70s-pop decadence with their songs of cheating, heartache and broken dreams.

Nicks left the group in the early '90s. In '97, Nicks hooked up with Lindsey Buckingham, the McVies and drummer Mick Fleetwood for a reunion tour and live album, The Dance.

Nicks began her solo career in 1981 with Bella Donna, which yielded the hits "Leather and Lace" and "Edge of Seventeen," establishing her as a successful solo act. That success continued throughout the '80s, but her career slumped in the '90s as her addiction took its toll.

Like a lot of comeback albums, Shangri-La is rife with guest stars -- Crow, Buckingham, Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks. The record is a mainstream-pop affair that is denser and more heavily produced than the classic Fleetwood Mac tracks that launched Nicks to fame.

The burnished layers of guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, etc. seem to weigh the songs down. There is nothing here with the ethereal allure of "Rhiannon" or the winsome sensuality of "Gold Dust Woman." Nicks' vocals also sound less throaty, and more nasal, than in her younger days.

Some of Shangri-La's songs have been gestating for 25 years or more. Nicks initially wrote "Candlelight" for inclusion on the 1973 Buckingham Nicks LP; "Sorcerer" was bumped from the breakthrough 1975 Fleetwood Mac release in favor of the similarly-mystical "Rhiannon," and she wrote "Planets of the Universe" during the '76 Rumours recording sessions.

The pop landscape has changed considerably since Nicks' last release. Her new disc may have trouble muscling teen-pop and hip-hop for attention on the radio waves.

"I'm not worried," she says. "This is the best I could do. I bled for this record. If it's a huge bomb, I'll just move into film and children's stories and coffee table books. I'm too old to get caught up in competition. I never did. I don't whine about not being on the radio."

Thanks to CLMoon for forwarding this article to us.