A Celebration of Self

The heartbreak and joy of being Stevie Nicks


San Francisco Chronicle (Datebook/pg. 76)
by Joel Selvin
October 6, 1983

All entertainers qualify as egotists. Some are merely self-centered; others fully narcissistic. But Stevie Nicks has elevated her sense of self to a full-blown, magnificent obsession.

The former Fleetwood Mac vocalist held a sold-out Oakland Coliseum audience captive for two hours Tuesday, running deep into overtime and stranding hundreds of concert-goers, who found BART shut down for the night when they finally emerged from the more than four-hour ordeal.

It was, as Nicks kept reminding the crowd, the final show on a lengthy tour. That could hardly surprise an audience that waited more than 50 minutes for the star to appear, on the heels of a 90-minute performance by the ostensible opening act, Joe Walsh.

But such regal indulgence with schedules was only the beginning of Nicks' celebration of self. It was the dominant theme of the evening, running from her self-absorbed dancing, sloppy singing, endless costume changes and idiotic prattle between songs, right down to the subject matter of her greeting card lyrics, which concentrated exclusively on the heartbreak and joy of being Stevie Nicks.

Her repertoire included songs from her Fleetwood Mac days as well as from her solo career: "Gold Dust Woman," "Sara," "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," "Edge of Seventeen," "Leather and Lace."

Nicks was swathed in lacy layers of scarves, veils and shawls, post-hippie apparel from some Beverly Hills boutique, no doubt; her face highlighted by something less a haircut than a feathery, golden aura. At one point, she even playfully poised a tambourine above her head like a halo to underscore the effect.

Making her second Bay Area appearance as a concert headliner on her own, outside of her big Mac, she finally managed to get through a local show without breaking into tears at least once. Maybe her parents weren't in the audience Tuesday, as they usually are.

The mood this time was cheery, frothy even, as Nicks gave her best impression of a gleeful pixie. All that was missing was the happy dust.

She apparently cannot distinguish any difference between her audience and herself. They are, after all, just another ingredient in her salute to self, an extension of her own love for herself. "This is a song from my new," she said. "your new, our new album."

Rapport? She stared out in the audience at someone yelling at her, and then admitted she couldn't see anything beyond the barrier at the front row.

But she probably heard them breathing.

Nicks has plundered some of the finest rock groups in the country for her band, using (at least, on a part-time basis) Bruce Springsteen's piano player, Billy Joel's drummer, Tom Petty's organist and Linda Ronstadt's guitarist.

Add three female harmony vocalists, the remarkable Bobbye Hall on percussion and a terrifically funky bassist, and Nicks has herself a top-notch posse of gunslingers who provided a gorgeous rock sound at her command.

During instrumental passages, she meandered over the stage looking like she was dancing in front of a mirror, not a crowd of more than 12,000. She seemed quite distracted from the chores at hand, frequently leaving the stage, only to return with yet another set of glamorous rags encircling her body.

BART said extra trains were waiting and that they requested announcements be made to the audience that the system would be shutting down at midnight. No such announcements were made from the stage.

Love yourself if you want to be loved, they say. But people struggling to find their way home from post-midnight industrial Oakland probably didn't love Stevie Nicks as much as they did earlier that evening.

[article accompanied by two photos of Stevie - one face shot, leaning over microphone; the other, in shawl with arms outstretched, with the caption: "Stevie Nicks did her usual whirling-twirling numbers Tuesday at the Oakland Coliseum (these photos taken earlier this year)


(With thanks to Dark Angel who sent me this article)