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Old 08-07-2010, 01:05 PM
michelej1 michelej1 is offline
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By JOSEF WOODARD, SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
http://www.newspress.com/Top/Article...09418621927453


Proceeds for Stevie Nicks' Wednesday night Bowl concert went to a charitable cause an 8-year-old girl, a friend of Ms. Nicks' named Cecilia, who is undergoing treatments for a rare form of cancer. "This is Cecilia's show," Ms. Nicks announced early in the show.

THOMAS KELSEY / NEWS-PRESS

August 7, 2010 12:00 AM

When Stevie Nicks performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl five years ago, she was suffering from a throat ailment that left her subpar, but she soldiered on through the show.

All was more than well during her triumphant return to the Bowl Wednesday night, as Ms. Nicks powered through a captivating set.

Beyond the musical strengths of the night, the recent encounter was enhanced by external factors. For one thing, there is the encouraging fact that she is finally working on her first new studio album in a decade produced by Dave (Eurhythmics) Stewart. Not incidentally, the Bowl date also had a charitable reason for being, with proceeds for the show going to an 8-year-old girl, a friend of Ms. Nicks' named Cecilia, who is undergoing treatments for a rare form of cancer. "This is Cecilia's show," announced the singer, early in the show.

Another interesting development in the world according to Nicks is the expanding demographic of her audience, even just in the five years since her last appearance here. Wednesday's audience was one of the more diversified Bowl audiences in recent memory, from Boomers around her age (62) to 20somethings who have ushered in a new phase of hipness in the singer's 40-year career thus far.

Opening the show was the impressive, up-and-coming Australian singer Mia Dyson, who made a joyful and soulful noise with just her voice and guitars first, a plaintive approach on lap steel and then chugging work on an electric guitar. Dyson boasts a Bonnie Raitt-ish vocal character, bluesy and with just the right blend of luster and grit in her voice, and she pens songs with a winning hookiness and emotional truth. She cooks up and kicks up a big sound on her own, but it would be nice to hear her in a band mix next.

For her part, Ms. Nicks took charge of the Bowl stage with the able help of her unerring nine-piece band, including two seamlessly entwined background vocalists and two guitarists. Her longtime ally, and musical director is Waddy Wachtel, who has a habit of playing just the right thing and making minimalist riffs speak volumes, and the guitarist Carlos Rios is one of those hot, versatile L.A. players who has never gotten enough credit due.

By now, Ms. Nicks knows her voice and its limitations, and she skillfully dodges the old high notes she no longer has access to. A well-paced and generous set functioned as a portrait of the artist to date. She has a good sense of humor about her own (and by extension, her core audience's) veteran status, as when she said of one of her shawls, "this thing is so old, I keep expecting it to fall apart, but it never does... just like me," she laughed. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."

Ms. Nicks is happy to serve up the Big Hits her audience can't get enough of, but approached from new angles. She slithered into her mondo Fleetwood Mac hit "Dreams" out of a medley, and eased out of keyboardist Daryl Smith's introduction, through a rubato vocal passage into the familiar rumbling groove of "Rhiannon."

From her own solo repertoire, Ms. Nicks satisfied the Bowl customers with the churning but minor-mode "Stand Back," "Gold Dust Woman" and "Edge of Seventeen" to close the official set. "Sorcerer" emerged as one of the beauts of the night, a driving semi-twang country-pop number with some nice quirky rhythmic twists along the way. "If Anyone Falls in Love" is one of those big-boned pop-rock songs and wannabe anthems, bolstered by chunky, simmering guitar and a signature synth part underscoring the big vocal refrain.

From outside her own songbook, Ms. Nicks covered Tom Petty's "You Wreck Me," Bob Seger's "Face the Promise," and, for her first encore, a fairly dead-on version of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll," replete with the loopy John Bonham drum intro, laid out by her solid drummer Jimmy Paxson. During the Zeppelin cover, vintage footage of the '70s heyday flashed on the screen behind the band, triggering memories of times long gone by, including my own memories of seeing the Nicks/Buckingham era Fleetwood Mac as an impressionable teenager at UCSB's Harder Stadium. Ending on a grace note, she closed with a final encore of the airy, emotive "Love Is..."

At various times in the past, Ms. Nicks maybe have seemed to be coasting on old artistic fuel, but energies seem to be converging again. She seems like someone entering a new state of grace, corralling new fans into the fold and getting back to her game in the studio. All ears are open to what comes next.

e-mail: life@newspress.com
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