Stevie Nicks & The Pretenders – Spark Arena November 21, 2017


Stevie Nicks brought her 24 Karat Gold Tour to Auckland for two shows this week. Fortunately, that also included bringing along The Pretenders.

With two huge musical legacies to get through, it was an early start at Spark Arena, with The Pretenders hitting the stage at the very un-rock & roll hour of 7pm.

No matter, Chrissie Hynde and band, including original drummer Martin Chambers, were in top form.

Whether they played new songs (Alone, Gotta Wait) or old favourites (Back On The Chain Gang, Message Of Love), Hynde and company, including guitarist James Walbourne, bass player Nick Wilkinson and keyboard player Carwyn Ellis, played as if their lives depended on it.

Chrissie herself was full of rock & roll swagger, strutting the stage, striking poses with her guitar and generally proving that, over 35 years after forming the band, she has the spirit.

There were a few classic Chrissie moments as she castigated a fan in the front for using their phone during a song, or directed her wrath at a sound tech when she couldn’t hear her guitar.

The highlight for me was a hard-rocking version of Night In My Veins.

I’ve seen The Pretenders on a number of occasions, including the original line-up, and I think this may have been the best of the lot.

After a brief (almost too brief, in fact) intermission, Stevie Nicks and her band took over.

Along with veteran guitarist Waddy Wachtel (you know his work as session man for just about every LA 70s rocker from Warren Zevon to Linda Ronstadt), Stevie had an 8-piece band that included two guitarists, two keyboard players and two backing vocalists. Yet despite all of the on-stage chatter, and there was plenty of that, Stevie never got around to introducing the musicians.

Now, about that on-stage chatter…Nicks explained at the beginning of the set that she would be telling the stories behind most of the songs, and that she did, in almost exhaustive detail.

The first long-winded exposition came before Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around in which Stevie took us through the process of her telling the other members of Fleetwood Mac that she wanted to make a solo record, to her meeting a record company president, to her meeting producer Jimmy Iovine, then moving in with him, then eavesdropping on Iovine and Tom Petty’s conversations before finally recording the iconic duet.

At least the pay-off came in the form of a great song and a great performance with Chrissie Hynde returning to join in and Watchel singing Petty’s parts.

The same cannot be said of her 10 minute + description of how she met and recorded with Prince. That little interlude ended with a performance of an obscure Buckingham/Nicks tune and I spotted several concertgoers getting up and leaving at this point.

But those who remained were treated to excellent versions of Gold Dust Woman, Edge Of Seventeen, Rhiannon and Landslide.

Stevie was in good voice once she warmed up a bit, with the backing vocalists filling in the holes.

Some of the details in her stories…how she attempted to abbreviate sessions for Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage album so she could concentrate on writing songs for her next solo record, or how she forced members of her crew to watch a film twice (until they appreciated it as much as Stevie) made her come across as a bit self-centred and narcissistic.

I imagine your enjoyment of last night’s show was dependant on how much you worshiped at the altar of Stevie Nicks. As for me, I’m afraid Stevie, I’m just not that into you.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by David Watson:


Pretenders set list:

  1. Alone
  2. Gotta Wait
  3. Message Of Love
  4. Kid
  5. Down The Wrong Way
  6. Let’s Get Lost
  7. Hymn To Her
  8. Back On The Chain Gang
  9. Stop Your Sobbing
  10. I’ll Stand By You
  11. Don’t Get Me Wrong
  12. Night In My Veins
  13. Thumbelina
  14. Middle Of The Road
  15. Brass In Pocket


Stevie Nicks Set list:

  1. Gold And Braid
  2. If Anyone Falls
  3. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
  4. Belle Fleur
  5. Gypsy
  6. Wild Heart
  7. Bella Donna
  8. Enchanted
  9. Outside The Rain
  10. Dreams
  11. Starshine
  12. Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)
  13. Stand Back
  14. Crying In The Night
  15. If You Were My Love
  16. Gold Dust Woman
  17. Edge Of Seventeen
  18. Rhiannon
  19. Landslide