Stevie Nicks is inarguably one of the most celebrated figures in rock history. She’s a championed songwriter, a two-time inductee at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and now, thanks to the powers of director and producer Joe Thomas and Nicks herself, she could be “performing” from the comforts of your own living room.
In a new concert movie, filmed over two nights in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis during her 2017 tour, “Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold the Concert” premiered at drive-ins, select theaters and other spaces for two nights last month. The film is a breath of fresh air for those craving a live listen, but boy, does this movie deliver much more than songs — it’s equal parts wonderful and absolutely tiring.
In the opening scene, Nicks enters the stage with the same graceful bow she’s performed for decades on end, wearing her signature all-black gown, boots and fingerless gloves — truly no one can pull off the part-time witch look like the “Rhiannon” songstress herself. The scarves tied around her microphone stand and tambourine speak to her timeless aesthetic, viewers finding familiar comfort in her shiny, gold crescent moon necklace.
With a performance of “Gold and Braid,” a late ’70s groove sets the tone for a night of mystic tunes. For the movie’s set list, cutting the two performance nights together, Nicks says she went through her “dark gothic trunk of lost songs” to curate the performance, playing everything she never had the chance to or that she never released on a record.
“This show is different,” she says. “It’s not the same Stevie Nicks show you’ve seen a million times, because I am not the same Stevie Nicks that you’ve seen a million times.”
It’s clear by her stage presence that Nicks hasn’t forgotten how to work a crowd, even if this was filmed a few years back. “If Anyone Falls” shows excellent supporting harmonies by backup singers, the band working in a synergy that only musicians of a certain stature and experience can ever truly reach. Synth keyboards add depth to the live sound of the concert, supporting Nicks’ ever-controlled vocal delivery.
The only glaring downside of this film is its exhaustive run time. Clocking in at over two hours of songs and prolonged monologues, Nicks spends much of the time ruminating on the various situations that inspired her career and certain songs. It reaches the point where some viewers probably can’t help but wonder if even the live audience was starting to get tired of her rambling, but nevertheless, Nicks is still shown to be a gentle entertainer by nature.
It wouldn’t be a Stevie Nicks concert, however, without a little bit of gothic charm. Dramatics inevitably entered for “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream),” a performance that she dedicated to the late artist, Prince. In another monologue, she talked about how she became enthralled with the “Twilight” franchise and wrote this particular song about the saga’s main love interests. She tagged a bit of wisdom on the end of this somewhat bizarre origin story, saying you can experience all kinds of love through music even if you haven’t experienced that love in real life.
Ending on a soft note, Nicks’ encore performance is none other than “Landslide,” the song that she says launched Fleetwood Mac’s career. This is arguably the best performance of the whole film, considering it’s one of the few — if not the only — times when the singing and cheering of the crowd are kept in the sound mixing. This subtle audio choice helps viewers feel as though they’re closer to the live concert experience, even if they’re watching from their cars or couches.
And if you are watching from home, don’t feel guilty about fast-forwarding every once in a while — but don’t skip her intermissions every time. The countless anecdotes may take up what feels like a rather unnecessary hour of the movie, but as she says at the end of the show, these stories mean something to her. So, take them to heart and enjoy the lyric switch on “Rhiannon” as many times as you please.