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Old 09-26-2023, 07:24 AM
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Arrow Remembering Stevie Nicks first solo concert in Pittsburgh

Stand back: Remembering Stevie Nicks' first solo show in Pittsburgh, 40 years ago

The headliner “made the most of her limited talents.”

Whoa. That was the jarring assessment, via the PG, of Stevie Nicks in her first solo show in Pittsburgh 40 years ago. It was on June 28, 1983, at the Civic Arena, where the Fleetwood Mac gypsy was upstaged by a formidable opener.

This was her first full solo tour, just a few weeks after releasing her second solo album, “The Wild Heart,” which was getting airplay with the single “Stand Back.”

Nicks, who returns to PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday, had established herself as a solo artist two years prior, in 1981, with “Bella Donna,” loaded with four top 40 singles: the Tom Petty duet “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around” (#3), the Don Henley duet “Leather and Lace” (#6), riveting rocker “Edge of Seventeen” (#11) and country ballad “After the Glitter Fades" (#32).

“I got Fleetwood Mac in a room,” Nicks told the fans at PPG Paints Arena in 2017, “and said, ‘Fleetwood Mac, I want to do a solo album, but it won't hurt us at all. It will only keep us in the spotlight while you're on vacation.’”

She made the right call on that one, as her solo venture only enhanced her icon status and drew more people into what was already a massive franchise.

From the start

Before that, the enchanting singer from Phoenix helped define the sound of the ‘70s by breathing fresh life into Fleetwood Mac, a veteran British blues band in need of a revamp.

When she first set foot in Pittsburgh, on June 3, 1975, at the Stanley Theater, as part of Buckingham Nicks, it was to perform with what was advertised as “The Authentic Fleetwood Mac.” That was because, as detailed in a 2018 story, Fleetwood Mac had shown up in Pittsburgh the year prior to play the Syria Mosque with a fake lineup after the real band chose not to travel to the States.

In late 1974, Nicks and her duo partner Lindsey Buckingham had been incorporated into Fleetwood Mac after the guitarist agreed to replace Bob Welch on the condition that Nicks also be added. The 1975 show at the Stanley was one month before the release of the game-changing self-titled Fleetwood Mac album, unleashing the magic of Nicks on the single "Rhiannon."

They were back to open for Jefferson Starship at the Arena in October 1975 and then for The Eagles at Three Rivers Stadium in July 1976. They finally played their first Arena headlining show here, after the massive success of “Rumours,” on the Tusk tour in 1979.

Because sharing album space with two other songwriters — Buckingham and Christine McVie — creates a backlog of songs, Nicks began working on a solo album during the “Tusk” sessions, resulting in “Bella Donna.” Fleetwood Mac played more than 80 shows in 1980, but did limited touring behind “Mirage” in 1982 and then went on hiatus for several years to focus on the solo work.

Accustomed to the stellar musicianship of FM, Nicks did not skimp on the band for her solo tours. For the ‘83 show, her band included pianist Roy Bittan of the E Street Band (in between The River and Born in the U.S.A. tours), organist Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers, ace session guitarist Waddy Wachtel, Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto, a bassist who went by Wizard and backup singers Lori Perry and Linda Celani.

Still, Nicks’ performance before a crowd of 11,000 was described by the PG as “lackluster,” in part because it followed an opening set by a gentleman who was part of that 1976 Three Rivers show, Joe Walsh of The Eagles. With his guitar heroics, wacky sense of humor and hits ranging from “Funk #49” to “Rocky Mountain Way” to “Life’s Been Good,” Walsh is an absolute show stealer. The headline was simply “Walsh outshines Nicks.”

The Press review praised the tough-to-tender leather-and-lace quality of Nicks’ performance and her “waif-like, even fairy like” stage presence. Both reviews, however, complained of the pacing. There were long breaks between songs during which Nicks took time to change shawls and engage in banter that was a little bit “out there” by normal standards.

Stand back

It was just a start, though. Nicks would back, stronger, as a solo artist nearly 10 more times, beginning with a 1986 arena show with Peter Frampton and then a shift to Star Lake for five shows in the ‘90s and ‘00s.

Her previous solo show here, on the 24 Karat Gold Tour at the arena in 2017, was a treat for her hardcore fans as the often stage-shy icon opened up in a storyteller format, introducing nearly every song with an interesting anecdote.

That album from 2014, “24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault,” is still her most recent solo record, so the focus on Wednesday will be on her classic material, including a few tributes to beloved friends she’s lost. One she still has, thankfully, is Wachtel, who will be in his usual role of guitarist and music director.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, at 75, Stevie sounds “as pristine as ever.”

Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are going for nearly $150 at ticketmaster.com.

First Published September 26, 2023, 5:30am
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Old 09-26-2023, 07:44 AM
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I was at all the Pittsburgh shows. I'll be there tomorrow also.
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Old 09-26-2023, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by sleepless child View Post
I was at all the Pittsburgh shows. I'll be there tomorrow also.
Be sure to do a review. One interesting tid bit about Pittsburgh shows was the band played the hell out of Pittsburgh in the early days. Even the "fake" Fleetwood Mac opened there for that infamous show. Yet the band never played Pittsburgh on the very long Rumours tour. The band would not return until 1979. Stevie's tours always stopped there and even Chris played solo there.
The 1983 show was infamous for many reasons. Stevie seemed sick, out of it, and she alleges there were microphone problems. I think she sang Beauty and the Beast at Waddy's mic because she alleged that her microphone had issues and she could not hear herself well. I remember her actually moving the floor speakers herself trying to arrange them which seemed to never work. The show is on youtube but its hard to make out. But her first words to the audience were "Only you guys can make me feel so much better than I felt 10 minutes ago" Was she sick, got bad news? We may never know. I remember the lights to the arena going out as if the concert was starting. Then the lights came back on. Then they went out again and I could tell she was heading to the stage because there were lots of flashes I could see from cameras back stage. There is a famous photo of her that night with her kneeling on the floor during or at the end of Beauty and the Beast.
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Old 09-26-2023, 10:41 AM
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Oh yes, I will do a review. Yes, I remember how out of it she was that night. I was wayyyy in the back and she was this tiny figure on stage. It was also so hard to hear. Joe Walsh was so good, and she was a hot mess. The sound for her wasn't right that night. She kept moving the speakers. I do have the concert on tape. I'll have to listen to it again.
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Old 10-04-2023, 01:51 PM
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Where does the Joe Walsh break up come in? I thought he broke it off with her sometime around the Philly or Pittsburg shows...
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Old 10-04-2023, 05:07 PM
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Where does the Joe Walsh break up come in? I thought he broke it off with her sometime around the Philly or Pittsburg shows...
No, those were early shows in June. They were together all tour and broke up after the tour. Sept 21, 1983 was the famous Denver show where Joe took Stevie up the mountain for her inspiration for HAEWAFY.
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