Stevie Nicks sings, tells hilarious stories at Melbourne show

24 Karat Gold Tour, Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena, The Pretenders
(Mark Stewart/News Corp Australia)

Stevie Nicks’ latest tour sees her spend almost an hour telling hilarious and heartfelt stories about some of her greatest hits and unreleased gems.

STEVIE NICKS, THE PRETENDERS
Rod Laver Arena

CHRISSIE Hynde knows her stuff. “Melbourne you’re a music town,” Hynde said at last night’s Rod Laver Arena show where her band The Pretenders ignited the crowd for Stevie Nicks.

Off paper and in real life it turns out the two artists complement each other brilliantly — both iconic rock musicians (and both effortlessly cool) who inject their personality into their songs.

The Pretenders balance classic hits — “Brass in Pocket,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” “Message of Love,” “Back on the Chain Gang,” “I’ll Stand By You,” “Middle of the Road,” “Hymn To Her” — with a handful of new tracks to bring the audience up to date with the fact that this isn’t just a nostalgia trip.

Unlike most of these dual bills, where you’re hoping for a duet considering they’re in the same venue on the same night, Hynde and Nicks actually perform a song together.

It’s particularly poignant that they duet on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which was originally a duet with Nicks and the late Tom Petty.

24 Karat Gold Tour, Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena, The Pretenders
(Mark Stewart/News Corp Australia)

Petty looms large over Nicks’ entire set, including a string of photos of the pair on the big screens.

Nicks admits she “grappled” with singing songs she made with Petty so soon after his recent death, but knew her friend wouldn’t want her to change the show.

We already knew Stevie Nicks is a storyteller by her lyrics over the past 40 years, but on this new solo tour she becomes a literal story teller.

The theme is that a very chatty Nicks shares the tales behind most of the songs aired, many from her “gothic trunk of lost songs” on the 24 Karat Gold compilation, featuring tunes that didn’t make it out of the studios for whatever reason, some made with Petty and his band The Heartbreakers.

Some of the stories stretch longer than the tune they’re about — brilliant, rambling, incisive anecdotes filled with humour, near-forensic details and the occasional A-list superstar. It was like hearing her reading from her mythical memoirs, breaking up the chapters with songs.

But there’s *a lot* of talking. Like, almost an hour if you added it all up. Luckily Nicks is hilarious and engaging and her memory is super sharp and it’s nice hearing her talk about creating music and being a songwriter rather than being asked about drugs and ex boyfriends for the umpteenth time.

Nicks details how important her solo career outside Fleetwood Mac has been, but how she made a pact to return to the band whenever they needed her. “You can have it all,” she says of her dual careers.

24 Karat Gold Tour, Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena, The Pretenders
(Mark Stewart/News Corp Australia)

Arguably this kind of show (which pushed past two and a half hours) might be better in a theatre, but Nicks has the great problem of being way too popular for that.

It’s a different setlist than usual, airing some of those unheard or lesser-known songs (one stretching back to her pre-Mac album with Lindsey Buckingham) which rewards diehard fans — and there’s lots of them.

But not one of the increasing number of young fans discovering Nicks these days.

Side note — a 20-something next to this reviewer stated to her friend “Lindsey Buckingham is the other female singer in Fleetwood Mac” at one point when Nicks mentioned Buckingham. No, that’d be Christine McVie.

For the more casual fan Nicks still detoured through hits of her own (“Stand Back,” “Edge of Seventeen”) and of her other band (“Gypsy,” “Dreams,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Rhiannon” and “Landslide”).

24 Karat Gold Tour, Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena, The Pretenders
(Mark Stewart/News Corp Australia)

Prince joined Petty as the night’s most discussed man. You may know the story about how Nicks heard “Little Red Corvette” while driving to her honeymoon and it inspired “Stand Back,” but you haven’t heard it in this much detail. Nicks also talked about giving Prince fashion tips and reworked the dove theme in “Edge of Seventeen” to reference Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

They don’t make them like Nicks anymore — who else has someone on stage handing her an increasing array of shawls, including a vintage 1981 one that’s lasted longer than the careers of many of her contemporaries.

And who knew watching the second Twilight movie at a private cinema in Melbourne inspired her to relaunch her solo career and the song “Moonlight”? Yes, that Twilight.

And Chrissie Hynde didn’t have to call out any audience members on her pet hate — the modern plague of filming gigs on phones.

Now, for that next Fleetwood Mac tour where Nicks can play “Sara.”

The Pretenders play the Forum tonight, while Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders unite again for A Day on the Green at Rochford Wines tomorrow.

Cameron Adams / Herald Sun / Thursday, November 16, 2017

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