The gold-dust woman met the sawdust confines of the Minnesota State Fair on Friday night, when rock legend Stevie Nicks hit the grandstand for the first time in her 45-year career.
One of four Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees on the fair’s calendar this year — also: George Clinton & P-Funk (Saturday and Sunday), Frankie Valli (Monday) and John Mellencamp (Tuesday) — the Fleetwood Mac singer drew an impressive 12,724 fans even though she just played Xcel Energy Center in December. And that X show had the Pretenders for openers.
Friday’s opening act was early-’00s hitmaker Vanessa Carlton, who quickly clued in the audience to her connection with the headliner when she delivered the romantic epic “Carousel,” which Nicks recorded in 2014. The centerpiece of her set then became the flittering songs from “Liberman,” an album named for her immigrant Russian Jewish grandfather.
“We came from another country; go figure,” Carlton deadpanned.
The opening slot was the only big difference between Nicks’ December concert and this one. She played nearly the exact same set list, avoiding many Mac hits in favor of solo tunes, while also offering stories about nearly every one. Foremost among them were songs off her 1981 solo debut “Bella Donna,” starting with the set’s breezy opening tune “Gold and Braid.”
As she often does at local shows, Nicks mentioned right away why she likes playing Minnesota: “The only man I ever married lives here,” she said, saying hello to her ex, Kim Anderson.
Only Nicks’ second show following a monthlong break, it found her in relatively strong voice. Her most striking turn at the mike came in the crescendoing “Twilight Saga” soundtrack ballad “Moonlight,” which she now dedicates to Prince every night.
“He always worried about me. … What happened to him was so against how he lived and what he believed in,” she said, referencing her own well-publicized addiction battles. She then told the same happier story she told at the X about how Prince came on short notice to help record “Stand Back” in the studio: “He showed up in 15 minutes flat and had outdressed us girls.”
Nicks’ song selection was the shakiest part of Friday’s set. “Starshine” sounded hopelessly dated, and “If You Were My Love” and “New Orleans” were both met with conspicuous audience chatter. The L.A.-twangy “Crying in the Night” — from the pre-Mac 1973 “Buckingham-Nicks” album — made for a fun deep cut, though.
Fans were supposed to get a fix of hits at the end of the show, but lightning warnings forced Nicks to nix her encore. That meant no “Rhiannon” and “Landslide,” but she at least got to “Gold Dust Woman” and “Edge of Seventeen,” each highlighting guitarist Waddy Wachtel. The night’s chilly weather also prompted one of the night’s biggest cheers as Nicks pulled out the original blue cape she wore with her arms outstretched on the “Bella Donna” album jacket.
“Not only because I love it, but because I’m freezing,” she said, proving she came well-prepared for a first-time fairgoer.
Here's Nicks' set list from Friday:
Gold and Braid
If Anyone Falls
Stop Draggin' My Heart Around (with Waddy Wachtel)
Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)
Crying in the Night
If You Were My Love
Gold Dust Woman
Edge of Seventeen