REVIEW: Ali Barter, The Pretenders & Stevie Nicks

It’s not every day that you get to see two legends of rock and roll open up their songbook and their hearts, and share their stories and their personal memories. But this was the treat for those lucky enough to be part of the recent solid gold experience created by Stevie Nicks and Chrissy Hynde and The Pretenders at the 24 Karat Tour, at Bimbadgen Estate’s A Day on the Green.

There were lots of true fans in the audience – people who had travelled from far and wide, from Canberra and the North Coast, as well as across the Hunter and Central Coast, to witness this incredible moment in music and celebration of rock music anthropology.

The only shame was that some of the audience didn’t show the respect to these masters of song writing, which they deserved, with some punters calling out for less memories and more music, seemingly forgetting they themselves were there to make special memories of their own, and to connect to a history that began before them, and would continue long after.

Gripe over – back to the magnificence of this festival of female creativity and strength.

What a treat for up-and-coming Aussie rocker Ali Barter to be included as the only support for two of her musical role models. She didn’t disappoint, even though she has a few technical issues with a new guitar and the nerves of something going awry. That aside, Ali was fabulous and left an impression, belting out her indie-pop, empowerment numbers from her album A Suitable Girl, including the catchy Cigarette and ending with the anthemic Girlie Bits.

Seeing The Pretenders has been on this reviewers musical bucket list for some time. I wasn’t the only one looking forward to the performance, with punters mature in their years, acting like teenagers when their idol Chrissy Hynde took to the stage with her fellow foundation band member Martin Chambers, and current collaborators Nick Wilkinson, James Walbourne, and Eric Heywood.

A precision-played hit parade followed, with a few numbers included for the true fans and to introduce the audience to new numbers from the band’s recent album Alone. The set opener was new offering, Gotta Wait, which was followed by hits Message of Love and a jazzy version of Talk of the Town.

Showing she’s never going to be a woman to be messed with, or taken advantage of, Hynde gave a scolding to audience members who were watching her performance through their mobile phones, set on record – she stopped the set and struck a rock-God pose: “You wanna take a picture of me, here take a picture. This is a live performance – watch it live!” People put their phones down.

The hits continued with Back on the Chain Gang, Middle of the Road, and crowd favourite Don’t Get Me Wrong and I’ll Stand by You. A peppering of new numbers Let’s Get Lost and Alone, were included, before finishing up with radio favourite Brass in Pocket, set to the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. The crowd erupted and were left wanting more. It was a perfect memory.

Stevie Nicks is a consummate performer and songwriter whose decade-spanning catalogue is without comparison. She’s an intimate storyteller, who promised to share her secrets and passion with the audience who shivered in the cold Hunter Valley evening air.

The storytelling in song and in-between the performance of Nick’s hits, and not-so-well-known numbers, going as far back as before Fleetwood Mac, with a rarely-played Buckingham Nicks’ song, was an absolute treat, and something I know lots in that crowd will never forget, despite the wine consumed.

Paying tribute to her friend and musical idol Tom Petty, Nicks shared the story of how she took the risk to establish herself as a solo artist when Fleetwood Mac were at the height of their fame in the 1970s and 1980s. Sharing how she created her first solo album Bella Donna without an obvious single, for Petty to then share his song writing, musical talent and voice for the worldwide hit Stop Dragging My Heart Around. Hynde joined Nicks on stage to belt out this anthem of the broken-hearted – it was enough to mend the most shattered soul.

Nicks shared the stories of how she penned Fleetwood Mac super hit Dreams in a velvet-lined studio created for the use of funk legend Sly Stone, from Sly and the Family Stone. The crowd swooned.

With images of her friend and music icon Prince up on a large screen, Nicks shared the story of how she wrote hit Stand Back, while driving to her honeymoon and hearing a Prince number on the radio. She spoke of her friendship in music with the quiet pop maestro, and how she contacted him for his permission “to rip his song off”. He consented and even played several instruments on the recording. Seeing that song performed live, and with such passion and grunt, was a standout and warmed the crowd.

Nicks shared stories of her favourite car ‘The Pocket’, a Corrolla that had no working reverse gear, which she drove at the start of her career. She shared secrets like the cost of the iconic cloak she wore during her Bella Donna tour and promotion. She spoke of her mother, who grew up poor and always taught her daughter to be frugal.

“She taught me to get value out of what I buy. I think this magnificent cloak was good value at $3,000 as I’ve worn it thousands and thousands of times and every time I sing from my first album,’ Nicks shared.

Performing other numbers from her song writing catalogue including Wildheart, Starshine and Gold Dust Woman, and sharing her love of the Twilight book and movie series, singing the song Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream), which she wrote in 2010 while here in Australia – Nicks was ethereal and magnificent.

Finishing up with anthemic Edge of Seventeen thawed the frozen crowd, who were overtaken by the tribal rhythms and the powerful story of woman. It was a golden moment.

Nicks’ encores included the hit Rhiannon, she penned for Fleetwood Mac and sent the crowd off with the sweet lullaby of Landslide. This icon of music sparkled that evening, let’s hope her shine doesn’t fade anytime soon.

Thanks to Tim Bradshaw Photography for the photo.

Written by Newcastle Live

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