Stevie Nicks has amassed such a huge and memorable body of work over the years--- with this trimphant live concert video being just the latest chapter in a uniquely ongoing career--- that she is one of the few artists who genuinely deserves to be called a star, a legend, and an icon. Let's get that out of the way first.
As she has gotten older (age 59 at the time of this 2007 concert), Nicks has somehow managed to age incredibly gracefully, if you can say she has aged at all. Looking easily 20 years younger than her birthdate would have you believe, she just totally sparkles in a warm, appealing, natural way--- not phony. She's not only a stunning beauty in this performance, but she has become a casually elegant and high-class lady as well. How many female rockers could you honestly say that about?! Not only that, but what comes as a happy addition to all this (although it shouldn't come as a surprise) is that she can still rock out too, and rock out hard!
It's just a treat to watch and listen to her. She's a musical and emotional experience, and when you've seen her at work, whether live or "just" on video as here, you know that you've witnessed one of the bona fide highlights in your life.
A special mention to her dramatic abilities, by the way. In the slow, quiet songs especially, she doesn't just sing the words, she seems to inhabit them. Not just a rock star, or even a singer, but a great musical storyteller. Although Nicks herself has said that her greatest influence was Janis Joplin, her particular style of artistry almost channels another era, a Judy Garland or Lena Horne type, maybe Marlene Dietrich--- only using (appropriately) bluesy rock music as her forum instead of show tunes. Nicks is really about the only artist today with this unique approach.
With all this said, then why did I only rate it four stars instead of five? Just a couple of reasons: #1, the audio and video quality is absolutely superb, but it's SO inhumanly perfect that it saps a bit of "liveness" out of this live performance. Everything is crystal clear, the sound and picture both marvels of modern-day high-tech. But rock & roll is *supposed* to be just a bit grungy, you know?! When the drums and guitar really start wailing, you need to get just a little down & dirty. Everything you see here is so brightly-lit, so "clean" that it's almost sterile.
Same with the audio: for instance, Stevie's backup singers. Okay, I know they are awesome vocalists, but could any human being (much less three of them at once) sing this perfectly? At times, one almost *has* to suspect the use of some sort of auto-tuning device. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much perfection. If you take away the applause (which was actually done in in the audio CD version of this concert), it sounds exactly like a well-produced studio recording and not anything like a live session. For the CD, I think this idea works rather well. But for the DVD, a filmed record of a live show, I'd like to see it looking more "live", less "studio perfection".
But my biggest single gripe about this concert--- and this is the main reason I rated it 4 stars instead of 5--- is the constantly "moving target" style of editing. The multiple cameras flat-out refuse to hold a single shot for more than ten seconds before switching to another angle. On some of the slow songs especially, a simple shot of Stevie's own face would be plenty to carry the entire song from start to finish. Or maybe one or two transitions, but come on--- did we really NEED the constant cuts to the guitarist, then a cut to the background singers, then a cut to the audience, then a cut to side view, then a cut to the drummer, and then an overhead view from the apparently endlessly swooping camera? All this movement is distracting, and (unfortunately) it goes on for most of the concert. Only in the slowest songs, thank goodness, does the camera movement also slow down a bit--- and not by much even then. Sheesh.
A hint for all future Stevie Nicks films: Just keep the camera in one spot for a minute or so, for pete's sake, and let the singer and the song carry the moment. Nicks is plenty capable of doing just that. I know we live in an age of extremely short attention spans, and the director was probably worried about the viewing audience getting restless if the camera stayed still for too long. Well, maybe for a lesser artist they would--- but for Stevie Nicks, no. Just let her sing her songs, and keep the camera dances out of the program, please?!
A few highlights to watch for: Stevie's stories introducing the songs, and a few tales about her career. Awesome to listen to. She can talk just about as well as she can sing--- and speaking of singing, by the way, her voice (especially in the lower register) is warm and vibrant and sounding better than ever. Really. This is one lady who keeps getting better as time goes on. Compared to her unfortunately ragged vocal style in the 1980s.... well, there is no comparison. At age 60 or so, she is at her peak.
Although she can (and does) still rock out, it's her slower, quieter songs that really hold your attention: the haunting "Circle Dance" with its sad, resigned, "We did the best we could." The equally haunting "Sara", which (as Stevie notes) is more of a Fleetwood Mac song and rarely makes its appearance in a Nicks solo performance. But at the urging of the producer/director, she did include it here and it's a highlight. The familiar "Landslide" which becomes an incredibly moving tribute to her late father Jess Nicks. A surprising (and stunning) Dave Matthews cover, "Crash", which is certainly as good as the original. An effective, throwaway Tom Petty cover, "I Need to Know", which she's been doing off and on throughout her entire solo career.
Well, there are many more--- but the bottom line is, do buy this disc. Despite its very few flaws (the quick-cutting camera work in particular), it's an amazing document of a rock & roll legend at work.