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Live Review: Stevie Nicks, Pretenders, Ali Barter

21 November 2017 | 4:50 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"'Whenever we do "Stand Back", Prince is right here,' Nicks adds, saying she can feel his presence, which helps settle her nerves."

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While the heavens open around Rochford Wines and we experience nature's version of a rock'n'roll show - rumbling thunder, menacing forks of lightning - while pitying those who forked out for a spray tan. DJ Master Baitz has a laugh as well, playing a selection of weather-inspired classics such as Here Comes The Rain Again by Eurythmics and U2's Beautiful Day

When Ali Barter takes the stage she lies, "Your hair looks great! Don't stress." Speaking of hair, Barter has gone blonde. Her debut album is an absolute cracker and Cigarette is adorably nonchalant, but Barter fails to connect on this large stage today.     

Pretenders on the other hand absolutely demand our attention, Chrissie Hynde delivering a string of brilliant songs - Back On The Chain Gang, I'll Stand By You, Don't Get Me Wrong - while keeping the banter to a minimum. Whether rocking out or heartfelt, Hynde is a charismatic superstar and she truly embodies rock'n'roll - you can't imagine her doing anything else. It's kind of annoying to be told to sit down when having a dance, since we're pretty sure artists write songs with the intention of making people dance. Especially Middle Of The Road, with its rollicking drum and rallying, "Wooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-Wooh!" intro and harmonica cacophony to close. If only we could all be as effortlessly cool as Hynde. Their set is over all too soon with Brass In Pocket - "I'm gonna make you, make you, make you, make you no-tice!" Yep, we've noticed alright and thankfully there are a few more punters up and dancing at this point.

After intermission, we see the blinged-out mic stand being set up with ribbons and scarves, and ready ourselves for Stevie Nicks. And this aptly named 24 Karat Gold tour kicks off with Gold And Braid, a colour-themed opener that shows off her distinctive, almost-husky, vocal tone. Nicks has recruited her pre-fame collaborator Waddy Wachtel to lead this seven-piece band.

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Nicks often speaks of Tom Petty throughout her set. She tells us that when she finished recording her debut solo album, Bella Donna - which she says took three months and was "very, very together" as opposed to her usual mode of recording - producer Jimmy Iovine pointed out it lacked a single, before revealing he had a plan: Petty had already recorded Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, but said he'd like to sing it with Nicks. Nicks says her response was: "Are you kidding? YEEEEEEES!" The crowd whistles and whoops. Then we collectively lose our shit when Hynde returns to the stage to take Petty's parts. Nicks tells us that her intention when creating Bella Donna, her first solo album, was "to make a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers record but for girls".

Belle Fleur is about a second-hand Toyota Corolla Nicks owned, which she tells us couldn't reverse, adding that she missed it once she started getting limousines everywhere. Gypsy elevates The Green with that escalating melody, the band sounds fabulous and there's a whole lotta dancing going on.

"Because of Wild Heart, Bella Donna was not a fluke," Nicks tells. "And, because of Wild Heart Stevie Nicks has a solo career." She then shows us "the Bella Donna cape", which was made in 1981, but remains pristine. We then learn it cost $3,000 and Nicks says she never told her mum how much her clothes cost. When Dreams enters the spectrum, it's pure blissful singalongs: "Thunder only ha-appens when it's raining/Player only LOVE you when they're play-ing." And who knew Dreams was Fleetwood Mac's only US number one!?

Nicks tells us she wrote Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream) in Melbourne and thanks us because she "gets very inspired every time she comes here". Following Stand Back, during which the guitar solos positively glisten and Prince's striking image graces the backdrop and makes us tear-up, Nicks tells us this song was originally recorded over Prince's Little Red Corvette, adding that The Purple One actually played on the finished version. And Nicks tells Prince rocked up to Sunset Sounds in LA to record his parts driving a purple Camaro and wearing purple velvet. Come to think of it, these songs would make a perfect mash-up. "Whenever we do Stand Back, Prince is right here," Nicks adds, saying she can feel his presence, which helps settle her nerves. A Buckingham Nicks song, Crying In The Night, follows and Nicks points out she's never included a Buckingham Nicks song in her set before.

We cannot imagine a better encore than Rhiannon followed by Landslide ("the song that took us all the way to the top"). She's heavy on the chat this evening and Nicks herself even thanks us "for listening to [her] crazy stories". "This world is made for us to have fun," Nicks concludes after providing us with enough 24 Karat Gold memories to last until next time she graces us with her presence.