Stevie Nicks/ The Pretenders
United Center, Chicago
Saturday, December 3, 2016
By the dates on their birth certificates, Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde could easily qualify for retirement, but rather than tossing in the towel or being satisfied with repeated trips down memory lane, both the longtime Fleetwood Mac member and The Pretenders’ fearless leader are touring together behind compelling new material and kicking some serious arse in the process. For Nicks, now 68, that meant a treasure trove of previously unheard demos that are now properly re-recorded on 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault, while The Pretenders brought tunes from the rugged Alone (produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach) to a sold out United Center.
“Nice to see all the old faces and I do mean old,” joked Hynde at one point during her band’s blistering hour, who quickly added “f— it. I’m 65!” And age did indeed prove to be nothing more than a mere number as the singer, co-founding drummer Martin Chambers and the latest Pretenders cast plowed rough the current “Gotta Wait” and “Holy Commotion,” alongside the classics “Back On The Chain Gang,” “Middle Of The Road” and “Brass In Pocket.”
Headliner Nicks gradually built her hypnotic groove with the less frequently performed “Gold And Braid” and “If Anyone Falls,” sounding like her distinctive self (despite a more modest range) and enchanting like the ultimate rock goddess. However, she really revved up come “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which may have originally been cut with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, but was transformed into a girl power anthem of indestructibility as Hynde made a ferocious return.
Stevie further projected her endurance with the title track from The Wild Heart (recently remastered and reissued along with 1981’s debut album Bella Donna), which she considered to be the turning point towards her solo success being more than the fluke so many had predicted. In fact, she proved that much-deserved longevity time and time again, whether it was “New Orleans” (a chilling ballad of hope for Hurricane Katrina), the jangly rocker “Starshine” (from a previous Petty session that never saw the light of day) and the gothic grandeur of “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream).”
Of course, there was also the synth pop flashback “Stand Back,” which besides its bountiful beats, was accompanied by a story about its main muse Prince swooping into the sessions just fifteen minutes after their first-ever phone call for an impromptu collaboration. And as is typically the case, Nicks also sprinkled in a few Mac favorites, such as twirl-inducing “Gypsy” (though noticeably void of Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar pyrotechnics), the trippy “Gold Dust Woman” (with Mick Fleetwood’s thunderous clashes equally missed), plus the even earlier Buckingham/Nicks standout “Crying In The Night.”
Following the guitar cyclone “Edge Of Seventeen,” Nicks made Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” entirely her own with an intricate and mystical arrangement, then wrapped her two hour set with the always poignant “Landslide.” As she delivered the endlessly covered lines “but time makes you bolder/even children get older/and I’m getting older, too,” rarely did such a bittersweet sentiment sound so beautiful, while also offering a testament to the legend’s tenacity right up through this authentic and fruitful chapter.
-Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis