Saturday, August 13, 2011

My 30 Hour Stevie Nicks Adventure

Now that I am home, I'll try to recap the entire experience.

Friday morning, I got up at 7:30, dressed, kissed Tom and Kiwi goodbye and set out on my pilgrimage. This was my 4th time to see Stevie in concert. The first time was in 1998 for the Enchanted tour. Tom went with me that time. I also saw her in 2001 and with Fleetwood Mac in 2003. I have skipped her last few 'Greatest Hits' tours in favor of waiting for a new album. I'm so glad I did.
As I hit the road, I pulled up on my iPod an interview Stevie did with Jim Ladd of KLOS about a week ago. The interview was 3.5 hours long, so it was almost long enough for the entire drive. It was recorded between midnight and 3am LA time, and you can tell. This was the perfect way to get me ready for the show. Jim always asks the good questions. There were none of the regular 'What was it like being in a band with your ex?' or 'How many times did you go to rehab?' questions. Stevie and Jim had a great, freewheeling conversation about the new album, songwriting, performing, name it. For those of you who think Stevie is all airy-fairy, you should listen to this. She gets very profound in places, and also very funny.
I hit Grand Prairie around 2:30 and go directly to the Verizon to pick up my ticket. I was hoping there would be some last minute ticket drop, but it was not to be. I drove to my sister's apartment. I had just enough time to catch up with her, while she got ready for work. I had planned on napping and driving straight to the show, but Nache let me know she would be tending bar. I decided it would be rude of me not to visit her at work. I showered, changed and followed her to the restaurant. I dined on crab cakes and a cosmopolitan. I was going to teach her to make me a Stevie Nicks martini, but she was kinda busy. It's all good, as she made a mean cosmo.
Time to go to the show. I drive back to Verizon, and realize...I did not bring any cash with me on this trip! The parking attendants do not accept credit cards. I have never used an ATM with my card and have no idea what my PIN is. I call the credit card company hoping for some help. No dice, they can't give PINs out over the phone. I call Tom, he has no suggestions that are feasible. I drive around and see that there is a baseball game going on at the ballpark across the street from Verizon. I drive over there, and find out there is no charge for parking. I'll have to hoof it, but I park and walk over to Verizon. I leave my camera in the car (which turns out to be a blessing)
I stand in line at the souvenir stand, and see this beautiful young girl dressed in Stevie finery. She graciously allowed me to take a pic. Armed with my shirt, baseball cap and coffee mug I take my seat, WAY in the back. I don't care, I have an excellent center view.
Before the show starts, Tom calls to check on my parking dilemma. I give him the lowdown, and he replies 'What if the game gets out first? Do you think your car will be locked in the parking lot?' Of course, I hadn't thought of that. And that's when the lights dim, and Michael Grimm takes the stage. Well, this simply will not do. I can't be worried about my car while Stevie is on stage. I'l never be able to concentrate. I grab my stuff, race down to the souvenir stand again, find someone in line, and offer to pay for her $35 shirt if she'll give me a $20 bill for my parking. She agrees. I FLY to my car (in the Texas heat) drive it back to Verizon and get parked properly. I run back inside just as Grimm wraps up his set. I am SWEATING, and thirsty, but I dare not leave my seat again.
Ok, before Stevie takes the stage, an side for the uninitiated: Stevie Nicks is my religion, and this is not an exaggeration. So, going to a concert is like a Baptist at a Tent Revival. Again, that's not an exaggeration. this was a religious experience for me.
The lights dimmed, and the crowd started cheering. The Black Eyed Peas song 'I've got a feeling' played as the band took their stations. Then The lights came up and a familiar riff filled the air. There stood Stevie Nicks, draped in a beautiful red shawl from 1976, and she launched into Stand Back. I was on my feet immediately, screaming, singing, dancing, and tearing up a little. I forget my sweat, and my thirst. From the get go, she was on FIRE. I think that song is the perfect opener, as it really gets the crowd going.
Stevie is very chatty all night, and you can tell she was very excited about bringing new songs to the crowd. At first, I thought it was rude that the audience sat through the old songs, but then I realized, most of those attending probably haven't heard them yet. Even seated, the response to the new songs was great. (one thing about being in the nosebleeds, I stood up all night and nobody cared)
As she wrapped up the song, she kindly asked the people in the audience not to film her. The crowd roared with approval. Cameras were prohibited, and there were signs everywhere. I'm the first to tell you that I watch bootleg Youtube videos, but I think an artist has a right to ask people not to film them.
I have not been a fan of Secret Love live, I keep thinking it's in the wrong key or something, it just loses some of the drama. However she really brought it up a notch. I enjoyed it a lot. (take THAT Anthony Lower).
Dreams and Sorcerer were really good. She hit some of the high notes on Dreams, and really sold it. Say what you want, Stevie was def. not phoning it in.
Nest up was another new song. I think Moonlight is a great song from the album, I just don't know how well it translates to stage. It's a mid-tempo number with a great story, but no big dramatic stage moments. If there was a weak spot in the show, I would have to say this was it.
Stevie left the stage and a familiar, spooky musical interlude began. I knew what was next: Gold Dust Woman. This is the part of the show where my hands are raised and I am speaking in tongues, (see? Tent Revival) Stevie took this song to it's spooky depths, the vamp at the end was amazing.
When it was over, Stevie began to talk about her time at Walter Reed visiting wounded soldiers. She was very passionate and serious, so of course some drunks in the cheap seats began shouting 'I LOVE YOU STEVIE' as she was trying to speak. It was the rudest thing about the night. Even so, when Stevie began to sing Soldier's Angel, the crowd was transfixed. I was especially moved, and thinking about my friend Brad Burns, who just began an 18 month tour of duty. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed the ovation was as moving as the song.
Annabelle Lee: I love this song. I hope it becomes a concert staple. People run hot and cold on it live, but I think it was great.
The song ends, and Stevie begins to talk about the next song. I know immediately what song it is. I pick up my phone and dial Anthony Lower just as the song starts. This was my Come to Jesus moment. As Stevie began to sing For What It's Worth, I look at the phone in my hand, knowing Anthony is listening, and how special he is to me, and how much this song means to us, I fall down into my seat, crying uncontrollably. I can't even tell you how much that song encapsulates how much Anthony means to me. I was going to talk to him a bit at the end of the song, but I couldn't.
And now for a piano interlude. If you know your Stevie Nicks lore, you know what happens next. Rhiannon has come! Stevie has it all: Great vocals, batwing sleeves, and beautiful choreography. The whole crowd was up for this one!
Now, at Red Rocks, Stevie had performed another new song, In Your Dreams. This night she dropped in favor of the crowd pleasing Landslide. I would have preferred the newer song, but Landslide is Stevie's Amazing Grace. She wasn't so much performing it, as leading the congregation in song. She held the entire theater in the palm of her hand.
Stevie really got busy and sold Ghosts are Gone. I can tell she loves performing this, and it is great on stage. Unfortunately it's too new for the casual fan, she really had to work to get the crowd on their feet and it was only the grist few rows that did.
After the band intros, Stevie brought out her vocal coach for a treat. I haven't heard Leather and Lace live, ever, so this was very special.
And of course, Edge of Seventeen. I have nothing to recap here as I was WAY to busy singing along (loudly) and dancing. Do you know how hard it is to spin between rows of seats????
In 2003, Fleetwood Mac closed the Lubbock show without an encore. I was so afraid that would happen here, but Stevie did not disappoint. The couple right in front of me, a young man and his girlfriend/wife were obviously on a date night, holding hands and hugging all night, trying to be oblivious to the screaming, singing, dancing gay man behind them. They never said a cross thing to me, so as Stevie closed the show with her beautiful ballad, Love Is, I sat down and let those two have that moment. (Betty Buckley was in the audience, I hope she decides to cover a Stevie tune like Love Is on her next album)
As the lights came up, a lady sitting next to me, sarcastically (but playfully) asked me why I didn't enjoy the show more. I laughed as she asked me how in the worked I knew how to sing along to every song, even the things that were different than on the albums. I just shrugged and replied 'I've had YEARS of practice.'

This morning I got up and left Dallas about 9am. It was raining most of the morning, as I listened to In Your Dreams on constant repeat, as I mentally began to compose this post. Just as I was about to hit Eastland, TX, I got a flat. I pulled over to fix the flat. I mean people get flat tires all the time right? I could fix this on my own without going into 'Pierce The Toast' mode (if you don't know what that is, rent The Birdcage). The tire and most of the equipment came out of the trunk with ease. Everything, except the jack. It just would not come out. I spent 20 minutes or more trying to get that stupid jack out, all the while taking breaks to try and wave down cars. I was veering very close to 'Toast' territory. Finally, Strapping Young Matt (or SYM) pulled over in his toyota, and offered assistance. Of course, he got the jack out in no time, and with a little help from SYM, I was back on the road.

30 hours and 750 miles later, I am back at home, grateful for the experience. I look over this and it seems like so much less than what it was, but it truly was an Enchanting evening. Stevie recharged the batteries of my soul...