Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Rod Stewart & Stevie Nicks live!

| April 11, 2011

Even if Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks don’t seem like the most obvious tourmates, their careers actually share several parallels. For starters, each found fame with an influential group, with Stewart fronting British rockers Faces from 1969 to 1975 and Nicks co-leading Fleetwood Mac since ’75. From there, each rocketed to international stardom, reinventing themselves to mirror the changing musical landscapes throughout the ’80s and ’90s, though, coincidentally, neither has released an original studio album since 2001 (though that’s all about to change in the case of Nicks, who drops In Your Dreams on May 3rd).
Given his elder statesmen status, it was only natural for Stewart to close Saturday evening’s United Center spectacle, which unveiled several shades of his chameleon-like personality. Considering it’s no surprise he loves old-school soul, the orange (and later purple) spot coat-clad crooner tipped his hat to The O’Jays with a rousing rendition of “Love Train,” amplified by a 10-piece band and three backing vocalists. 
His softer side crept in next come the smoky retro ballad, “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright),” though he quickly settled back into R&B’s golden era channeling Chicago native Sam Cooke on “Havin’ A Party.” Though it seemed like Nicks had just wrapped up her portion of the performance, she was back to duet with Stewart on his keyboard-infused oldie “Passion,” but since it wasn’t originally designed to be a duet, the pairing came across awkward and forced. Even worse was Stewart croaking his way through Don Henley’s normally smooth support on Nicks’ tender “Leather And Lace.”
Following that partnership, he continued struggling to hit the high notes on many other ballads, including Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is The Deepest,” Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.” Even though that latter tune’s since become one of Stewart’s most celebrated staples, the hushed arrangement made him sound all the more laborious behind the mic.
Thankfully that wasn’t the case on gravelly rock ‘n’ rollers like “Forever Young” (and even at 66, he still looks it) or the fierce and lusty “Hot Legs” (when he kicked at least two dozen autographed soccer balls into the stands). Additional covers like Cooke’s “Twistin’ The Night Away” and Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” were perfect matches for his weathered register and he interjected boundless energy and charisma into both. “Maggie May” also served a sweet morsel of mandolin-infused nostalgia and would’ve been a suitable closer, but the obligatory (though now downright ridiculous) disco ditty “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” served as Stewart’s final inquiry.
At 62, Nicks still sings like a woman half her age and commands plenty of cheers as she twirls with her laced-garnished shawl at full speed. Such was the case during the throbbing opener “Stand Back,” which earned a recent resurgence as a remix on the dance charts and kicked off the affair oozing with ominous attitude. Solo favorites like “If Anyone Falls” and “Sorcerer” were juxtaposed with the enchanting new cut “Secret Love” and four Fleetwood warhorses. Even if “Dreams,” “Gold Dust Woman” and “Rhiannon” missed the group’s unmistakable harmonies, “Landslide” benefited from a surprise appearance by a shimmering Sheryl Crow, a longtime protégé of Nicks’ in town to join her for an “Oprah Winfrey Show” taping.
“Edge Of Seventeen” turned the tides back to Nicks’ solo career and, aside from an indulgent and excessively long guitar-charged introduction, it’s a bona-fide classic that hasn’t sounded this hot since Destiny’s Child sampled it a decade ago. Comparatively speaking, the sentimental, barebones finale “Love Is” was underwhelming, but it once again showcased her status as one of rock’s most distinctive voices.
— Andy Argyrakis

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