Orlando Sentinel 7-3-98

Nicks seems to be having a good time

By Parry Gettelman

Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie grew tired of touring and called a halt to the group's massively successful reunion tour last year. The road seems to agree with her former bandmate Stevie Nicks, however. She has headed back out as a solo artist this summer, and at the Orlando Arena Wednesday, Nicks not only looked relaxed, fit and happy but sounded even better than when she appeared at the arena with Fleetwood Mac in November.

Christine McVie mentioned last fall that both she and Nicks had given up smoking, and it certainly seems Nicks has continued treating her voice kindly. Her alto was strong and secure, husky but not raggedy, with just the right amount of vibrato. She no longer tries for some of the high notes she used to hit, but she never was an acrobatic singer, in any case. And high notes don't matter much when a singer has such a distinctive tone and direct, personal style.

Nicks is touring in support of a new three-CD solo retrospective, Enchanted. However, her set list also included Fleetwood Mac hits such as ``Rhiannon,'' ``Dreams'' and ``Gold Dust Woman.'' Although those are some of her best tunes, they weren't necessarily the best numbers of the evening. Although her performances were terrific, her seven-piece band and two female backing vocalists were solid but rather colorless.

Of course, it's hard for any road band to try to match up against one of rock's great ensembles, but perhaps the contrast would have been less marked had the arrangements been more different from the original versions. Lindsey Buckingham's incendiary style was sorely missed on ``Rhiannon.'' I found myself wishing Nicks had played a solo piano version, as she did on Enchanted. She did perform a very stripped-down version of ``Landslide,'' with just acoustic guitar and understated keyboards. It was the loveliest part of the show and very well received by the crowd that filled about two-thirds of the arena.

Not that fans were ever less than adoring, even when Nicks sang less familiar material such as the rather clunky ``Twisted,'' recorded for the movie Twister, and the more affecting ``After the Glitter Fades,'' ``Garbo'' and ``Rose Garden,'' performed in a largely acoustic segment. Nicks introduced those songs as a trilogy relating to the days when she was just trying to make it in the music business. Although not known as outgoing, she chatted to the crowd as if it were a group of old pals, even cheerily calling out ``I'll be right back!'' when she went to make one of her frequent but quick costume changes. (Maybe she could teach the Spice Girls her trick of just swapping shawls and filmy outer layers of clothing.)

The band sounded more confident -- or perhaps just suffered less by comparison -- on two hard-charging solo numbers, ``Stand Back'' and the set-closing ``Edge of Seventeen.'' Nicks' encore included a quieter number from her solo career, ``Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You,'' which she sang as if addressing each member of the audience individually.

Opening acts rarely get standing ovations or encores, but singer-guitarist Boz Scaggs achieved that feat with a superb 45-minute set. He and his exceptionally tight, dynamic band performed both fine newer material and old hits. In keeping with the rootsiness of Scaggs' recent recordings, they gave a stronger blues/R&B twist to ``Miss Sun,'' ``Lowdown'' and ``Look What You've Done to Me.'' Those songs may have seemed just part of the pop tapestry in the '70s and early '80s, but they hold up amazingly well.

Thanks to CL Moon and Daniela Korges for sending this article to us.