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Stevie Nicks in Dublin review: The singer is not ready to hand over her mantle to Taylor Swift or anyone else

The bona fide legend gives fans at the 3Arena moments they will never forget

There was a moment that will undoubtedly live on in many of the audience’s memories as images of Stevie Nicks and the late Christine McVie were projected on screen. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Stevie Nicks

3Arena
★★★★☆

The first time that Stevie Nicks played Ireland in November 1989, her fellow musical entertainer Taylor Swift wasn’t even born. Yet just a few days ago, Nicks thrilled the parents in the audience at Swift’s Aviva Stadium gig by making a masked appearance in the VIP tent. Some 50,000 people found themselves in the presence of both rock and pop royalty as Swift, the biggest pop star in the world, paid tribute to her hero’s genius.

Tonight at the 3Arena, there is no sign of the Princess of Pop and friendship bracelets returning the favour, but the Swift Effect is visible nonetheless: there is a decidedly younger faction to the audience, many of them dressed in the boho-style skirts made famous by Nicks in Fleetwood Mac’s 1970s heyday.

Although there had been much (understandable) gnashing of teeth at the eye-watering ticket prices, Nicks’ first solo appearance in Ireland in almost a decade is undoubtedly an event gig. And with little chance of Fleetwood Mac reforming after the death of Christine McVie in 2022 – Nicks recently vowed that “There is no chance…. without [McVie], it just couldn’t work” – fans have flocked to the temple for the opportunity to worship their goddess.

Stevie Nicks performing at the 3arena, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Stevie Nicks performing at the 3arena, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

This is no mere run-through of her former band’s songs, though. As Nicks takes the stage just after 8pm, her trademark long blonde tresses easy to spot even from the furthest point of the 3Arena, it is a solo song, Outside the Rain, that she opens with.

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It’s followed by the swift canter of Dreams, before she launches into the first of several long and amusing stories about recording Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around with Tom Petty for her 1981 debut solo album Bella Donna.

Indeed, tonight’s show could have been billed as “An Evening with Stevie Nicks”, as her stories are almost as entertaining as her songs. One, which recounted living in poverty with Lindsey Buckingham (“we were so poor that our car didn’t have a reverse gear”) and their first meeting with the members of Fleetwood Mac is particularly enjoyable, and leaves many fans wondering what stories she may yet have up her billowing sleeve if she ever decided to pen a memoir.

Now 76, Nicks is clearly a little less steady on her feet and there are less “whirling dervish” spins around the stage than there used to be, and more between-song breaks as her fine band fills time or she goes to change another of her trademark capes.

Nevertheless, her distinctive voice remains in glorious fettle – whether it’s taking on a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth, a duet with her vocal coach Steve Real (standing in for Don Henley) on Leather and Lace, or on a strident Edge of Seventeen, which brings many of the crowd to their feet.

Soldier’s Angel, a turgid ballad that she dedicates to the war-torn people of Ukraine, is the only real mis-hit in a set list largely drawn from her early solo albums – while the stage visuals, although in keeping with Nicks’ mystical aura, are occasionally a little naff.

There’s even an unexpected shout-out to Irish TikTok comedian Garron Noone, whose videos Nicks says she has been enjoying, before launching into a knockout two-song encore of Rhiannon and Landslide. The former is a highlight of the evening, Nicks’ voice swarthy and impassioned as she shakes her trademark scarf-draped tambourine. The latter, however, provides a moment that will undoubtedly live on in many of the audience’s memories as images of Nicks and the late Christine McVie from across the decades are projected behind her. It’s a moving dedication and the line “And I’m getting older too…” seems especially poignant tonight, although Nicks seems adamant that she’ll be back to Dublin soon. Not yet ready to hand over her mantle – to Swift or anyone else, it seems – she tells the crowd that she has been “running to the stage” to try to cope with McVie’s death in recent years. If tonight’s anything to go by, she’ll continue to be met with a welcome embrace by Irish audiences in thrall to a bona fide legend.

Stevie Nicks concert at the 3arena, Dublin on Thursday evening. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/ The Irish Times
Stevie Nicks performing at the 3arena, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Fans in the audience for Stevie Nicks's show at the 3arena in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Stevie Nicks performing at the 3arena, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Stevie Nicks performing at the 3arena, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Fans in the audience for Stevie Nicks's show at the 3arena in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times