Stevie Nicks brought her usual assortment of accessories to the Forum on Sunday night, including a tambourine festooned with glittering streamers and a dark-blue garment she described as "the original 'Bella Donna' cape.'"
Unchanged since she started wearing it around the time of her debut solo album in 1981, the cape cost $2,000, she said, and was made of silk chiffon — the same material used to create ships' sails, according to Nicks.
"It'll never fall apart," she added.
Yet the 68-year-old singer also had one item she doesn't normally bring on the road, and that was her "dark Gothic trunk of mystical, magical lost songs."
Two years ago, Nicks reached into the vault for "24 Karat Gold," an album collecting new recordings of orphaned tunes she'd written as long ago as 1969, well before she and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac and quickly became pop superstars.
Now, with Fleetwood Mac on a break following last year's reunion tour with Christine McVie, Nicks is touring behind the record, performing those lost songs for adoring audiences happy to hear them (provided she also sings "Gypsy" and "Stand Back," of course).
Implicit in any such project is the determination to set a story straight — to show it was the world, not the artist, that kept this music from achieving its full potential.
On Sunday, for instance, Nicks told a story about recording "Starshine" decades ago at Tom Petty's place in the Valley. Then she suggested the crisp, hard-driving rock cut would've been a huge hit if only she or Petty had been putting together an album at the time.
Because they weren't, she said, "it ended up in the trunk."
Instead of bitterness, though, Nicks found warmth in her recollections, helped along perhaps by the concert's location — not merely in her hometown but at one of the arenas where Fleetwood Mac helped invent arena-rock.
"Ah, the Forum," she said at one point, and you could sense the fond memories swimming in her head.
Indeed, as strong as Nicks' singing was, she was even better company between songs as she told funny, detailed stories about where the music had come from.
"Belle Fleur," she said, had been inspired by all the times she'd happily left behind a boyfriend at the beginning of a Fleetwood Mac tour; "If You Were My Love" was about … well, she couldn't place the name exactly.
She provided entertaining background on more familiar tunes too, including "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," her early-'80s duet with Petty that she said represented her attempt to worm her way into the Heartbreakers. (Here she shared the tune with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, who opened Sunday's show with an assured set of punchy, no-frills rock.)
Nicks also did an extended homage to Prince, dedicating her recent piano ballad "Moonlight" to him and explaining that she'd written "Stand Back" after hearing his "Little Red Corvette" while in the car driving to Santa Barbara for her honeymoon.
Later, images of the late pop icon flickered across a video screen as Nicks, her voice wavering with emotion, appended a bit of "When Doves Cry" to "Edge of Seventeen."
In Prince, she no doubt recognized a fellow traveler, someone as devoted to image as to sound. But what gratified about this straight-talking performance was Nicks' willingness — her eagerness, really — to chip away at her outsize persona.
Like that $2,000 cape, it's sturdy enough to withstand some wear.