It’s not often that you get to watch two of music’s leading ladies on the one stage.
And to see them laughing and having fun while speaking candidly to an audience of thousands on a sunny afternoon in the vineyards – well, it was nothing short of a privilege.
Stevie Nicks was the 24 Karat Gold tour headliner but Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders gave the boho blonde in black a run for her money.
Ali Barter kicked things off on the right note. The former Triple J unearthed winner from Melbourne is one of several female artists putting Aussie music on the map again, and for all the right reasons. Barter is right up there with Vera Blue, Alex Lahey, Montaigne and Courtney Barnett – pushing musical boundaries with clever and thought-provoking, relatable lyrics. It’s about the music, not the image.
Barter has embraced light and shade when it comes to her vocals and musical compositions. Her voice is sweet and gravelly one second and a roaring scream the next. She nails it, too.
Unassuming with jeans, a black t-shirt and sunglasses, she is one to watch.
Hynde strolled on stage with a confidence to be expected by a performer of her stature and experience. She ripped into Alone followed by Gotta Wait before giving a shout-out to the only original Pretenders member sharing the stage with her: the talented Martin Chambers on drums.
“What a pleasure it is to be back in the Hunter Valley, to be back with a message of love,” Hynde said.
“We love it here. I’d rather be here than just about anywhere else in the world. We can’t see anything because of the sun right now but it’ll go down, Everything goes down.”
Message of Love was followed by Talk of The Town which earned one fan a mention from the stage – “Nice dancing, sister” – and Down The Wrong Way.
A new version of Let’s Get Lost prompted a wonderful Hynde rant.
“You may not have heard this one. Download it. Steal it. I hate advertising,” she said.
“Oh and can you not film? This is a live performance and we don’t need that.”
Signs around the venue, in fact, discouraged people from filming and suggested instead that they enjoy the moment rather than viewing it through a small screen. Amen to that.
Let’s Get Lost preceded the superb Hymn To Her with just Hynde and a keyboard. Breathtaking. She cut the song short, saying: “I need love. Who doesn’t? I’m just an ordinary single grandmother.”
Ordinary? That’s debatable.
Back On The Chain Gang had everyone on their feet dancing and I’ll Stand By You had us screaming each word in unison.
At one stage Hynde stopped a song and swore when a guitarist made an error, then laughed.
“Everyone makes mistakes, That’s one of the things we all have in common,” Hynde said.
As for Don’t Get Me Wrong and Brass In Pocket – wow. Just wow.
The quintessential rock chick is still as formidable as ever but friendly, too. And boy, she is a tough act to follow.
Nicks floated onto the stage as only she can, much to the delight of the crowd (especially those who payed homage to their gypsy queen in leather, lace and flowing dresses). Her set was a mix of stories and songs and with a heavy emphasis on the life and talent of the late Tom Petty. Nicks all but worshipped the ground he walked on and admitted her dream was once to be a Heartbreaker.
We heard all kinds of anecdotes, such as the time she told Fleetwood Mac she wanted to record a solo album.
“They used to tease me about how many songs I would write that ended up in the dark gothic trough of songs,” Nicks said.
“I nearly fell over when they said I could go an do my own thing for a bit.”
She spoke of hiding in the basement of her music producer boyfriend’s house when Petty would come over, because he didn’t want Petty to know who his “new girlfriend” was, and then recording a number one hit with the man himself.
Hynde joined her on stage for Stop Dragging My Heart Around before Nicks launched into another story, this time about her beloved Toyota Corolla which didn’t drive in reverse. Then the money started flowing in and each Fleetwood Mac member had their own limousine.
Nicks felt “lonely” in the limo and missed her Corolla.
There was definitely a sense of a little girl lost in her stories. Nicks even wrapped her famous 1980 blue velvet shawl around her shoulders for a time. You couldn’t help but think it was some kind of security blanket when she spoke about her late mother and how she couldn’t believe Nicks paid $3000 for it.
Nicks was open and honest and gave a heartfelt insight into the stories behind the songs and life on the road with one of the world’s most popular bands. She talked about the “craziness” of recording Rumours and how Dreams came to be, and how she and Christine McVie moved out of a house they shared with the rest of the band.
The stage was pluinged into darkness for a time so the crowd held mobile phones (that had been hidden in their bags for fear of being subjected to the wrath of Hynde) in the air so that Nicks and her band could see.
Prince featured in her stories, too, as did the Twilight series. Yes, the vampire and werewolf one. Nicks is an Edward Cullen fan.
It was an odd but interesting series of recollections peppered with songs (see set list below). Was the format to everyone’s liking? It depends who you talk to. Those chatting away among themselves while Nicks told a story obviously weren’t that interested – however earned disapproving glares and head shakes from those who were hanging on her every word.
Portaloo line-up chatter at the end of the night suggested Nicks should have sung more of her hits and eased up on the storytelling, and praised Hynde for simply rocking out. Others loved the personal insights Nicks felt compelled to share.
Whatever your take, if you were at Bimbadgen on November 11 you were part of something special. These gals can still sing.
And as for A Day On The Green organisers, cheers to another well-organised and user-friendly concert experience.