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Published: 2016/11/28
by Matthew Shelter

Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders at the Garden

Stevie Nicks/The Pretenders, TD Garden, Boston, MA- 11/16

It was a double bill to warm a classic rocker’s heart: Stevie Nicks exploring both her own and Fleetwood Mac’s songbook, paired with fellow travelers Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders. As part of Nicks’ 24 Karat Gold Tour, the two veteran artists paid a visit to Boston’s TD Garden midway through a 27-city sweep of North America.

The Pretenders opened the show with an energetic hour-long set that featured a few songs off the band’s recently released 10th album, Alone, including the title track, “Gotta Wait” and “Holy Commotion” but otherwise stuck to the tried and true. Hynde and veteran drummer Martin Chambers are the only members left from the original Pretenders, but guitarist James Walbourne, bassist Nick Wilkinson and pedal steel player Eric Heywood have been backing Hynde for a while now, and are more than up to the task of carrying on the band’s storied legacy.

Hynde, clad in jeans, black t-shirt and pink jacket, and sporting a shaggy blonde mane, sounded strikingly good, and the band did her justice on hits ranging from “Message of Love” and “Hymn to Her” to “Stop Your Sobbing” and “Mystery Achievement.” Highlights included a snarling version of “My City Was Gone,” featuring stinging solos from both Hynde and Walbourne, carried along by Chambers’ irrepressible pounding, and set-closer “Brass in Pocket.”

Nicks took the stage about 30 minutes later, and played for a solid two hours. Although she has been touring with Fleetwood Mac fairly regularly in recent years, she seemed energized to be on her own with the chance to feature songs she doesn’t get to play as much. “I’m going to do some things I haven’t had a chance to do ever before,” she said early in the evening.

She played the songs you’d probably expect—solo hits like “Stand Back,” “Edge of Seventeen” and “Leather and Lace,” and Fleetwood Mac classics “Dreams,” “Gold Dust Woman” and “Rhiannon”—but much of the night was spent delving deeper into her extensive catalog, and providing some back story to many of the songs.

Like Chrissie Hynde, Nicks remains remarkably vital as a performer. She may not swirl and twirl on stage as much as she did in her heyday with Fleetwood Mac, but her voice, as clear and distinctive as ever, never wavered over the course of a 19-song set.

Backed by a full complement of five musicians, including longtime collaborator Waddy Wachtel on guitar, and her regular backup singers Sharon Celani and Lori Perry, Nicks strolled as far back as the early ’70s for a Buckingham-Nicks era song, “Crying in the Night,” to a more recent track, “New Orleans,” written during Hurricane Katrina.

Early solo tracks “Wild Heart,” “Bella Donna” and “Enchanted” flowed nicely into one another, but the centerpiece of her set was an extended version of “Moonlight (Vampire’s Dream),” a majestic ballad she started writing in the mid-70s but completed and released just five years ago. The song—inspired by the relationship between Bella and Edward in the 2009 film Twilight: New Moon, as well as her own long, never-quite-broken connection to Lindsey Buckingham—is, she said, “my favorite story I’ve written in the last 25 years.”

The 24-Karat Gold Tour continues for another month or so, ending with a series of West Coast dates in mid-December.

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