Friday, November 4, 2016

If Anyone Falls: My 24 Karat Night with Stevie Nicks

What can I say when I’m speechless? I suppose that’s why they call it speechless and why it’s taken so long after the show for me to begin to comprehend what I was going through for the 90 minute-plus Stevie Nicks show at Houston’s Toyota Center on October 29, 2016. As the show began to wrap up and I knew the Goddess of Rock and Roll was about to leave my presence, words did come to mind, but they were not the kind of words I’d want my grandmother to read. If you are sensitive to salty language or are my grandmother, skip the next sentence. “Fuck, shit, dammit, oh my gods!” I’m not sure why these words came to mind, other than the fact that I was simply speechless and overcome by emotion as I once again witnessed the twirly, lace-ridden, husky-voiced poet sing her heart out to the crowd. And I didn’t want it to end. 


At least I had matured. I still recall the times she would take to the stage and I would weep like a girl; and finally understand the reaction of so many youth to the Beatles. Stevie is my Beatles, and so much more. Her songs have inspired me. Her poetry and lyrics are crafted in ways that have really made me think about how songs are written. The way she has managed her desires to be a singer, to be on stage, to be a rock star, and her careful crafting of her image are things many artists and fans look up to.

My fascination for her began in the 80s Mirage era Fleetwood Mac; music videos of her sitting in the desert on a settee in a red dress; her gypsy visage twirling through glitter and in the rain. She had me with her vision, her words and that voice.

Circumstances kept me from seeing her previous two tours, but having seen her live so many times...and honestly, I can’t count them all, having seen her usually more than once for each tour...I’m sure it’s more than twenty was disappointing but not something I couldn’t live through.

It was with this in mind, the fact that I’d not spent money on seeing her in five years, that had me splurge on this tour, buying VIP tickets, seated fifth row center, and receiving some nice gifts in the mail. I splurged on my finery, as well, taking advantage of the show being just days before Halloween. I felt if there was a time to really deck myself out for a show in the conservative city of Houston, this was my chance. I wore my double-breasted waistcoat with tails, bedecked with crowns, ribbons and a photo button of Miss Nicks. And the pièce de ré imperial crown covered in jewels.

There were several reasons behind the imperial look. I felt like it. I’d spent a lot of money on this show, and wanted to look like I had. I worked very hard to clear my schedule to attend, and I wanted to make an impact. I liked the idea of thinking that after the show, Stevie and her band would be discussing the performance and the crowd, and surely, Miss Nicks would posture, “Did anyone see the guy wearing the crown?” Yup. A lot of people did. I was hard to miss, even from up on stage.

Penguin in heaven in his front and center seat

As I neared the arena, I started hearing comments and feeling stares. I was expecting a lot of questions, “Who are you supposed to be? Where are you from? Why are you wearing that?” But instead of negativity, what I got was more along the lines of, “Wow, I love your crown. You look great! Your highness! Hey, King!” I also got a lot of photo requests and was more than happy to oblige, especially for the two young women from Puerto Rico. There were a lot of high fives and when complimented, I was sure to do so in return. If they’re going to lift me up, I’ll bring them along with me.

My favorite comment, heard more than once, was the question of where my queen was. The simple, obvious answer being, “Back stage, getting ready for the show.” It was fun standing out in the crowd and seeing people out of the corner of my eye taking photos of me.

Chrissie Hynde
One of the first things to really hit me about the night, as the lights dimmed for the opening act, was how, in my anticipation to see Stevie in concert, I’d neglected to remember that the opening act was also one of my all-time favorites- The Pretenders. Chissie Hynde’s voice, after all these years, is still phenomenal! She hit the highs as if this were still 1986 and she seemed vibrant and lively. One could tell she was enjoying being on stage with James Wallbourne and the rest of the great band. She played a few songs I was not familiar with, then a bunch of the ones I knew well, so I stood and sang along and danced.

James Walbourne

I could have listened to The Pretenders for much longer than their allowed time on stage, but the real reason for the night was, after all, Stevie Nicks. During the transition on stage, I was able to visit a close friend to pass the time.

The Pretenders

Waddy Wachtel
The hall darkened. The crowd rose and cheered. Old, familiar faces came on stage; her lead guitarist, Waddy, her musical director, Carlos, her singers, Sharon and Marilyn. Then, from the darkness and into the spotlight...Miss Nicks, all smiles, clad in flowing black gowns and glowing blond hair.

She commanded the stage, singing like an angel, chatting the audience up a bit, commenting on the history of the songs she was singing. The band was great and while I went into this thinking I would not bother with any photos, I couldn’t resist taking a few.

 Chrissie joins Stevie for Stop Draggin' My Heart Around

As for being noticed, I could tell that I was. While singing “If Anyone Falls”, the second song in the set, she gave me the ‘I see you’ sign, moving her two fingers from her eyes to mine. I thought I’d drop to my seat, but I just smiled, gave her a wink, and kept singing along. My wild heart beating heavily.

Rhiannon was performed, and when singing, “Rulers make bad lovers, you better put your kingdom up for sale…” she looked right at me and placed her hand above her head to mimic a crown! I nearly died.

I’ve been on stages and I know the light can be blinding and the crowd difficult to see, and this is why it’s great to be so close to the stage when you want to be seen by the artist. She was only about 20 feet away from my seat. I am sure she didn’t, and it’s all in my head, but all evening, it was as if she was watching me as much as I was watching her. It seemed as if she was watching me sing along with her. I just hoped I wouldn’t mess her up, as she’s known for changing words or the cadence of live songs. For much of the show, I felt as if it was just she and I standing in a room singing along together. I focused on her, watching her eyes seemingly look straight back to me, caressing the ribbons on her mic stand and belting out classic after classic.

Between songs, I would cheer and shout things to her. She commented on her song Annabel Lee about taking great poems and putting them to music as a way to get around not being a good song poet. I shouted that she WAS a great poet. She looked back at me and gave me a smile before starting the next song. My heart be still!

As the show progressed, I kept thinking how the set list was one of the best I’ve ever heard her perform. She did so many of her greats and so many of the little gems she loves from her last album, 24 Karat Gold. When she twirled, the crowd went wild. When she sang, the crowd sang along. When the band rocked it, the crowd danced. And there was Penguin, in his crown and impressive jacket, cheering, singing and dancing all night long. It was over too soon!

My escape back home was quick, save for the fellow concert goers asking for photos and commenting on my regalia. I loved the attention. The night was all about Stevie, and my attire showed others the degree to which I had made my night about her. I got to my car quickly and encountered very little traffic, almost as if I had a ghost police escort and my pretend entourage was quickly on the freeway headed back to my home in north Houston. King Penguin’s audience with Stevie Nicks now just a memory pulsating in my head and veins.

“Did she make you cry? Make you break down? Shatter your illusions of love?
Is it over now? Do you know how to pick up the pieces and go home…” (From her song, Rhiannon.)

Yes. Nearly. Not exactly. It is. I am learning...but home is always changing and growing and I’m glad to have grown along with my favorite artist, Stevie Nicks. Please hurry back, Miss Nicks! The evening exceeded my expectations and I could use another dose of that kind of magic!

Stevie rocks it with Sharon and Marilyn

Set List:

Gold and Braid
If Anyone Falls
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (with Chrissie Hynde)
Belle Fleur
Outside the Rain
Wild Heart
Bella Donna
Annabel Lee
New Orleans
Moonlight (A Vampires’ Dream)
Stand Back
Crying in the Night
If You Were My Love
Gold Dust Woman
Edge of Seventeen
Leather and Lace


  1. Glad you enjoyed the show! I have the VIP package for an upcoming show in two weeks. Could you verify if you received the merchandise by mail before the show. Haven't seen any VIP info posted anywhere...

    1. Merchandise arrived on Monday after Saturday's Show. Leather embossed journal, post cards, luggage tag,and a cloth bag. I was disappointed that there was no photo program. Does anyone have those anymore?

    2. Thank you so much for the reply. Glad to know what's coming if something else catches my eye at the vendor stand...Yeah, a photo program would have been great to include.

  2. Love Stevie Nicks! This was a great read, thank you.