San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Stevie Nicks puts a spell on San Diego

One night with Stevie Nicks entranced audiences with her mystical vocals, lost loves and ‘Dreams’
Photo courtesy of Live Nation.


That is the word that best conveys the feeling in the air on the night of Nov. 29 when Stevie Nicks performed in San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena.

The crowd gathering before the concert was an ebb and flow of glitter, draped in beaded scarves and dark hats — a reflection of Nicks’ own iconic style. 

A remarkable range of ages was present that night, from Nicks’ older white-haired fans to newer fans running in flowing dresses, all of whom contained the same excitement to see the so-called “White Witch.” 

“When did I become a Stevie fan? I’ve been a fan my whole life!” said Denise Hughes, attendee and SDSU alumni. “Well, I was born in 1980, so you could say I became a fan in 1982!”

Former frontwoman of Fleetwood Mac, one of the biggest bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Nicks launched her solo career with her album titled “Bella Donna” in 1981. The album and her following work established her as both an extraordinary frontwoman and a platinum-album-selling solo songwriter and performer. 

After such an illustrious career, Nicks shows no signs of slowing down as she continues to write new music and perform today.

“I love Stevie’s independence,” said fan Hillary Addelman. “(I love) that she’s a woman with a vision and that she branched out with Tom Petty and other musicians, following her own dream. If it’s anything like her last concert, her storyline that goes with every song of hers makes it an intimate experience. It’s not just a song, it’s a story.”

The love for Stevie Nicks had not been contained within the older generation, as the crowds of parents and children showed, but has passed down from generation through records spinning in growing households and children coming to share their parents’ love for Nicks’ music.

“Fleetwood Mac was how I woke up every morning, so I have my dad to thank for that,”  Addelman said. 

Not long after she walked inside, the lights dimmed and the opening act took the stage.

The singer walked quickly onstage with a drink in hand. A quick wave to the crowd later, she was on the piano, ready to burst into song. Her name was Ingrid Andress, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter, and she wasted no time. 

Her first song, “Lady Like,” was a country-pop infusion of confidence and brash femininity, with lyrics of whiskey kisses and lipstick on cigarettes. 

Andress’ voice was strong and sweet, highlighted by the focus on acoustic instrumentals. Her only backing musician was her guitar player, who sat on a stool beside her. Each song was accompanied by quips that made audience members laugh. 

“It’s hard for me to sing songs that haven’t happened to me, so I’m sharing myself with you through these lyrics,” Andress said. 

By the end, it was clear that Andress would leave the stage with more fans than when she arrived. 

After Andress’ set, the crowd didn’t wait for long until the lights were dimmed again. The roar of delighted audience members soon quieted as the waves of the opening riffs of “Outside the Rain” rang out.

The candle-like lighting and simple black levels enveloped the band in a velvety embrace.

The audience leaned forward in anticipation. The electric guitar and crooning of the perfectly synchronized backup singers intertwined as, from the darkness, emerged Stevie Nicks. 

She took a bow and approached the microphone.

“Let’s get this San Diego party started!” Nicks said, grinning. 

Her girly smile soon melted into otherworldly determination as she launched into the song, the smoky rock and roll style of the track brought tears to some eyes. 

She held onto the microphone, wrapped in dark scarves and as her notes moved from gruffly deep to soaring high, 75-year-old Nicks proved that her voice was as strong as ever. 

Seamlessly, with a kick of the drums and thrum of the bass, Nicks transitioned into Dreams, Fleetwood Mac’s timeless classic that has charmed decades of listeners, even today. The projection behind her swaying figure glittered in kaleidoscopic multicolor and fans danced and recorded her movements to preserve long after the song ended. 

After an energetic performance of the 1983 hit If Anyone Falls, alight in electric blue, Stevie apologizes to the crowd. 

“I haven’t sung in two weeks! I’ve been traveling and took a break so this is my first time singing in that time,” mourned Nicks. “So if I don’t sound perfect, that’s why. Me singing right now is like throwing velcro at a wall and hoping it sticks.”

The next track proved that her velcro had indeed stuck. “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” was at once a performance of fiery passion as it was a tribute to an old friend and the iconic generation of music they belonged to. 

The original song was a collaboration between Nicks and Tom Petty, born out of Nicks’ admiration for Petty’s band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. 

Before the performance, she explained how the song came about. She said her boyfriend at the time, who happened to be Petty’s producer, said that Tom Petty had a song for her if only she met with him to sing it together. 

“I went there the next day,” Nicks said. “I had never met Tom so I was just a huge fan, and so totally nervous, I went, ‘Helloo…’ the song was recorded in an hour.”

The story was particularly heartfelt in light of Tom Petty’s death six years prior. She performed another one of his songs for the encore — “Free Fallin.’” The gesture brought Nicks’ peer into the spotlight alongside her, and for a moment, it was as if she weren’t alone in front of the microphone.

The finely tuned team of musicians performing alongside Nicks delivered effortless talent in the form of heavy-hitting drums and intricate keyboard playing through “Fall From Grace” and the ethereal Fleetwood Mac classic “Gypsy.” 

As she kicked off a surprising cover of “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, Nicks revealed that her very first time voting was during the controversial 2020 election. 

“This song says one thing: I don’t care what your political thing is: just vote! I myself never voted until I was 72,” Nicks said. “What was I doing? I was busy being famous!”

In another political moment of the night, Nicks recalled her time touring for soldiers in the 2000s, citing it as her inspiration for writing the song “Soldier’s Angel.” The themes of war and destruction resonated for her as news broke about Ukraine’s invasion of Russia. 

“One thing I know for sure is we can’t let Russia take Ukraine!” Nicks said passionately.

The Ukrainian flag and images of war flashed as she sang her heavy ballad, the air solemn.

The atmosphere lifted as “Bella Donna” rang out, mystical and shrouded in soothing backing vocals, performed with Nicks twirling in a dark cape. Surprisingly, Nicks left the stage only to return for “Stand Back,” which was high-powered, and thoroughly golden; she wore a beaded golden cape this time, and with the fabric and warm shine of the lights, Nicks’ hair seemed to shine like gold, too.

The highlight of the night was the phenomenal wave of energy that hit the audience like a sandstorm: “Gold Dust Woman.” The opening of heavenly twinkling instrumentals accompanied by the building drums and guitar created frantic suspense.

Nicks swept up the arena in her song, music which harnessed feminine power and intensity and swept her up as well. As the song built further, the lightning between the musicians moved Stevie into an almost religious fervor. 

Her head lolled, her arms swayed, and Nicks was folded to the ground, lifted up high and spun as if a puppet pulled by strings. With her flowing clothing and golden hair, she was a force to be reckoned with. Nicks was a woman possessed.

The energy was palpable in the arena, and when the song ended, Nicks appeared exhausted, saying that “Gold Dust Woman” was surely her most draining song to perform, but she soldiered on through a suspenseful performance of “Edge of Seventeen.” 

The show’s finale was “Landslide,” which became an emotional tribute to friendship and a girlhood spent with her late Fleetwood Mac bandmate, Christine McVie.

McVie passed away last year; to commemorate McVie’s memory, fans paid tribute by turning on their flashlights to light up the night.” 

“Thank you for singing that with me,” she said. “My mom used to always say, ‘Stevie, when you’re hurt, you run for the stage.’ And I run back to the stage because being here makes me feel a little bit better.”

Through her loss and love for music, Nicks took San Diego through sweet memories, political movements and old friendships to ultimately deliver a deeply personal performance. 

The night made nods to her legacy yet cemented Stevie Nicks’ place as a legend of the present.

About the Contributor
Katerina Portela
Katerina Portela, Staff Writer