Live: Stevie Nicks Closes Out The Season At Jones Beach


Stevie Nicks w/Michael Grimm
Nikon Theater At Jones Beach
Sunday, September 4

Better than: A radio stuck on the classic rock station.

“Welcome, Jones Beach,” Stevie Nicks said before her second song on Sunday night, the last night for both her current mini-tour and the Long Island oceanfront amphitheater’s 2011 season. “If you know me, you know there’s nowhere I’d rather be than the ocean. I love it here.” The crowd—even those people flouting her request to not hoist their cameraphones and get video of her performance that night—cheered.

For the rest of the evening—a 14-song set almost evenly split between her back catalog’s most memorable songs and selections from this year’s In Your Dreams—Nicks and the audience kept up this rapport, with her at one point wishing that she had another hour tacked on to the show to tell her stories; that the audience consistently responded to her reminiscences about the distant and recent past in kind, even breaking out into whoops and applause when she merely mentioned the Aspen mountains that had inspired Fleetwood Mac’s monster hit “Landslide,” was a pretty convincing sign that the feeling was mutual. (This even though the weather conditions were such that every audience member could feel as if they, too, were standing in front of a wind machine. Solidarity!) In her inimitable voice, she offered up the backstory for her military spouse’s lament “Soldier’s Angel” and tagged it with a plea to donate to the USO; she lost herself in the music, shimmying and twirling and giving her musicians Dances Of Stevie’s Veils when they soloed; she gave a splendid introduction to her opening act Michael Grimm, a former America’s Got Talent winner who’d pulled off a pleasant, if somewhat reserved, set of Stevie Ray-leaning blues-rock earlier in the evening.

The material from Dreams, which can sound too wrapped in gauze on record, was given a nice amount of heft by Nicks’ backing band; “Ghosts Are Gone,” in particular, sounded as if it had been excavated from the vaults of a hard rock station that went off the air in 1974. (It also made me wish for a Stevie Nicks/Black Mountain collaboration of some sort.) But it blended in well with the likes of “Gold Dust Woman” (here, turned into an endlessly spiraling freak-out) and “Dreams,” and Nicks’ unfailing personality further blurred the edges between old and new. At the show’s end, she thanked everyone in attendance for allowing her to rescue the show from being the sort of nostalgia-fest that had choked so much of this summer’s concert season. “You give me the OK to continue being a creative artist,” she said, “and I am grateful for that.” That she ended the show with another twist on the old days—the stark, mournful ballad “Love Is,” which she told the audience could be left up to their own interpretations and which I personally took as a portrait of a relationship that just wasn’t right, despite feelings burning strongly on both sides, had she said officially replaced the older ballads that closed out her years and years of previous tours—was just another way of her saying not “goodbye,” but “see you next time.”

Critical bias: “Stand Back” was a pretty formative early-MTV experience for me. But so was Lindsey Buckingham’s “Go Insane.”

Overheard: “Is this… really a dry venue???”

Random notebook dump: I went to this show on something of a whim; my sister was in town and I figured it would be fun to show her what it was like to see me at work. (Labor Day!) We bought tickets (cheap ones) at the box office and there was something just really pleasant about going to a fairly major (if not entirely full) show just because it was an option on a holiday weekend. There were other people in line with us, too, but there were even more people in the lines to pick up tickets they’d bought via the bubbly discount site Groupon. I can’t help but think that the idea of going to see a concert by a fondly thought-of performer on a whim, which is something that’s certainly possible for people in music-blanketed New York City but maybe not so much in the suburbs unless you want to catch a Dave Matthews tribute band at Mulcahy’s, is something that high ticket prices have sort of torpedoed. Perhaps this is why the Groupon did so well—the seats that normally cost $27 had been marked down to $13 a pop, which is comparable to the price of a 3-D movie and, in the case of Nicks, something that’s at least geared toward adults and that allows for pre-show tailgating with picnic tables and jars of sangria.

Set list:
Stand Back
Secret Love
Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)
Gold Dust Woman
Soldier’s Angel
Annabel Lee
For What It’s Worth
Ghosts Are Gone
Leather & Lace
Edge Of Seventeen

Love Is