Stevie Nicks Sea. Hear. Now Festival Review: A Religious Experience With Tons of Tributes

Stevie Nicks performed at Asbury Park’s Sea. Hear. Now Festival on Sept. 17. It was a deeply moving performance, packed with tributes to her favorite artists and friends. Her setlist was everything fans wanted, and she sounded perfect. However, the most powerful part of Nicks’ set was fans’ reactions.

Stevie Nicks performing at the Sea. Hear. Now Festival on Sept. 17.
Stevie Nicks performing at the Sea. Hear. Now Festival | Hannah Wigandt

Fans were extremely excited to see Stevie Nicks at the Sea. Hear. Now Festival

Early on Sept. 17, a few loyal fans began to camp out against the barricade in front of the Surf Stage on the sandy Asbury Park beach. They risked the heat and being packed in during every performance during the six+ hour wait before Nicks took the stage. They wore T-shirts with her face on them.

After a mid-day performance by Skip Marley, most people left for the festival’s other performances. Their departure allowed other fans to pack in close to the people who’d camped out. None of the fans in that area wanted to leave their spots a second before Nicks officially left the stage.

Boy George and Culture Club performed at 5 p.m. and then Gary Clark Jr. at 7 p.m. After the latter exited the stage, those who’d camped out for Nicks were pushed close to each other, packed in like Sardines, as fans craved to get better spots to see their idol.

Fans grew increasingly anxious to see Nicks before she went on at 9 p.m. Then, suddenly, the speakers started playing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘ “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” Fans screamed. After the song, Nicks’ band entered the stage, and fans screamed.

They began playing “Outside the Rain.” Finally, Nicks came on. At her entry, the sheer roar of the crowd was louder than the music. Fans outstretched their arms, and some wept. It was hard not to shed a tear at how powerful the moment was; everyone was feeling it. It felt like a religious experience.

After “Outside the Rain,” Nicks dived into a deep rendition of her Fleetwood Mac hit, “Dreams.” Her voice is perfect on the lower notes, but unfortunately, she can’t sing higher anymore.

After greeting the audience, Nicks played “If Anyone Falls.” The next song Nicks played and another later in her hour and a half set at the Sea. Hear. Now Festival were touching tributes to a dear friend.

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Nicks performed a touching tribute to Tom Petty during her Sea. Hear. Now Festival set

After “If Anyone Falls,” Nicks jumped into “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” her hit song with Tom Petty. The pair first met in the late 1970s. Immediately, Nicks knew she wanted to be friends with Petty and barely left him alone until he felt the same way about her.

They eventually recorded “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” in 1981, and the tune became a hit single on Nicks’ Bella Donna.

After she played the song, Nicks jumped into “Enchanted.” Then, she announced she recently recorded a cover of her next song, Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” and plans to release it in the next couple of weeks.

“It really wasn’t a political song. It was actually written about the riots on Sunset (Boulevard, Los Angeles),” Nicks told the crowd. “… I just thought that, sometime, music saves the world, and I thought this would be a good song for right now.” Nicks sounded really good on “For What It’s Worth.” Buffalo Springfield undoubtedly played a massive part in Nicks’ musical identity.

The track will be Nicks’ first solo release since her 2020 single “Show Them The Way.” After the protest song, Nicks played “Gypsy,” “Wild Heart,” and “Bella Donna.” All were perfection.

Then, Nicks again paid tribute to Petty by playing his song “Free Fallin’.” While she sang, Nicks projected old and newer photos of the pair during their life-long friendship on the screen behind her. Everyone in the audience felt the love Nicks still has for Petty. It’s clear she’s still mourning the musician, who died in 2017.

That wasn’t the only tribute. After powerful performances of “Stand Back” and “Gold Dust Woman,” Nicks performed one of his biggest hits, “Landslide.” She dedicated the song to her Fleetwood Mac bandmate, Mick Fleetwood’s daughter, Tessa, who is her goddaughter (both Tessa and her twin, Ruby, are both her goddaughters). Tessa was in the audience watching Nicks, who added, emotionally, “Tessa, this is for you, and I don’t see you very often, my angel, but I’m always with you.”

For her last song, Nicks played “Edge of Seventeen.” Like during “Free Fallin’,” Nicks projected pictures of her friend, Prince, on the screen. When Nicks finished the song, she departed the stage, but she was far from being done at the Sea. Hear. Now Festival.

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Nicks played an epic final song

Of course, once Nicks exited the stage, fans started chanting her name like she was a goddess. It took less than two minutes for Nicks to return to the stage to perform another Fleetwood Mac hit, “Rhiannon.”

Then, for her final song, Nicks performed Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” Nicks has performed the song often, but that doesn’t mean her rendition of it at the Sea. Hear. Now Festival was anything less than spectacular.

Fans cried once more and screamed at the top of their lungs. Then, Nicks exited the stage after bowing to the crowd with her band. It felt like no one wanted to leave the beach. An hour and a half wasn’t enough time.

The strong reaction from fans, mainly from a younger generation, shows that Nicks is still one of the most beloved rock stars. She definitely felt that love too.

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