In a continuation of last year’s trend of “go see Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famers on their One Last Go-round tour”, I took the whole family to Fleetwood Mac. All in all a really good show, probably better than I expected. I had never seen Fleetwood Mac, in spite of being somewhat of a fan, particularly of Christine McVie’s work. So the years they toured without Christine I just wasn’t interested, like Mike Mills with R.E.M., in my opinion she makes the band. Rather than a blow-by-blow, just some observations –
Neil Finn and Mike Campbell add some much-needed energy to the band, with Finn at age 60 being a decade younger than the youngest (Stevie Nicks) of the classic Mac lineup. Campbell is 69, but he was to many observers the star of the show. Wearing a ridiculous looking hat that was a cross between Roger Glover and Slash, he played the guitar god that he is to the hilt, unlike when he was a sideman to Tom Petty. Everyone knew he was a great, great guitarist, but it was Tom’s show. Lindsey Buckingham is a great guitarist, but I’ve never thought of him as a rocker, Campbell ROCKED. After a couple of songs, Carrie says “that guitar dude is the bomb!”. Well, duh, he played lead for TOM F**KIN’ PETTY for 40 years. Campbell is more than adequate as a replacement guitarist for Buckingham, he nailed the trademark stinging guitar lines on the classics and played top-notch blues rock that no one ever heard Lindsey play on some of the back catalog (more on that in a moment).
I had goosebumps for the whole performance of Don’t Dream It’s Over by Finn, such a great song, he did it full justice. At other times, he bounced around the stage, like Campbell, seemed more exuberant than in his former bands. But hey, if Mick Fleetwood calls you and asks you to join one of the most legendary bands ever, I guess you’d be pretty fired up.
John McVie was a non-entity, standing at the back of the stage, and buried in the mix, he was inaudible. While we’re on that topic, the sound was good, but not great, during the rave-up portions of Oh Well, it was pretty much noise (as it was on the original, we have way better sound technology now, but maybe they were trying to be authentic).
Second Hand News – the band was ultra-tight on this one (as they were throughout the night), it was actually quite rockin’. The 6 member Mac was accompanied by an additional keyboardist, guitarist, percussionist, and 2 female back-up singers.
Black Magic Woman – this was spectacular. Stevie introduced it, even admitting that when she joined the band she had no idea it was a Mac song. Stevie sang, Campbell kicked ass, it turned into an extended jam with Campbell exchanging blues lick with the 75-year-old Christine on keys, I always knew she was a brilliant singer-songwriter, but never knew she had keyboard chops like that.
Tell Me All the Things You Do – Christine introduced this one, it is a Danny Kirwan song. There was a mass exodus for beer/bathroom, including me, fortunately I could still hear it out in the concourse, it is actually a rockin’ guitar song, Campbell and Finn rocked out. Check it out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6iLfnWiLYg
World Turning – one of my favorite Mac songs, in the middle there was a long extended percussion jam between Fleetwood ( who was yelling in tongues the whole time) and percussionist Taku Hirano, who is magnificent. Fleetwood has a lot of energy for his age, but was visibly winded at the end. VERY trippy visuals on the big screen behind the stage during this one, people lit up during this one and the other druggy songs.
Oh Well – Mike Campbell unleashed his inner Peter Green, both singing and playing lead guitar. “Don’t ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.” Hard rock ecstasy, bounding on heavy metal.
I already mentioned Don’t Dream It’s Over, exquisite, everyone sang along on this one and of course the radio wear-out songs.
Monday Morning – very good, worth mentioning because it was an additional song to the set list they played the night before in Columbia.
Gold Dust Woman – long, very trippy, drugged out head music jam, with Stevie doing her stoned whirling dervish act all over the stage. Excellent.
Go Your Own Way – I’ve been burned out on this song for decades, I loved it the first 4000 times I heard it, then couldn’t stand to hear it. But it was spectacular, they rocked the house in a large way, I had goosebumps throughout this one as well.
Free Falling – very nice tribute to TP, lots of slides of him with Stevie, him with Mike, even one with all 3 of them. Made my eyes water.
That was followed by an uninspired version of Don’t Stop, I think the septuagenarian band members were tiring, the last song was a sappy duet between Christine and Stevie from their worst-selling album, then Mick came out and babbled for about 5 minutes. Both he and Stevie are perma-fried from all the drugs, most awkward moment of the night was after Don’t Dream It’s Over, here’s the Observer’s report on it –
“It is, you know, Oscar night, right? You’re all here, but it’s still Oscar night. So since I really don’t know anybody in Sou — South Carolina,” and here Nicks paused for a millisecond. It felt, at least to me, like that millisecond lasted half an hour — and if it actually had, I would have done everything in my power to get a note to her, warning her of her impending mistake. I think she sensed something was off. But it was too late.
You could almost feel everyone in the arena holding their breaths, getting ready to slap their hands against their foreheads (including Finn), as she spit it out:
“So since I really don’t know anybody in Sou — South Carolina, I would just like to say, ‘The OSCAR GOES TO SOUTH CAROLINA!’” She could probably tell immediately that she’d screwed up, since fans weren’t cheering like she’d surely hoped. We all just muttered some form of “OMG” to our dates, in unison. She quickly blurted out “CHARLOTTE!” But now it was waytoo late.
Finn didn’t know how to save her. And she arguably made things worse by stumbling through an explanation that made practically no sense whatsoever. “North Carolina is in my brain, thank you, because — I think because of the Sturgis Motorcycle Benefit place — big festival, right? That’s like in North Dakota, right? It has nothing to do with this except for the north —”
(Quick side note: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place in South Dakota.)
“We’re covering everybody,” Finn broke in, forcing some laughter. “It’s great. We’ve just got everyone —”
“We are. We’re at the festival, we’re at the Oscars, we’re everywhere tonight!” Nicks said. “So anyway. OK. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Sometimes, you know, five years of speech communication, it’s like — in college, I just have to…” and she trailed off, saying something I couldn’t make out.
Finn laughed nervously again, and suggested everyone take a deep breath. Everyone took a deep breath.
FLEETWOOD MAC’S SETLIST
1. “The Chain”
2. “Little Lies”
4. “Second Hand News”
5. “Say You Love Me”
6. “Black Magic Woman”
9. “Tell Me All the Things You Do”
10. “World Turning”
12. “Oh Well”
13. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Crowded House cover)
15. “Hold Me”
16. “Monday Morning”
17. “You Make Loving Fun”
18. “Gold Dust Woman”
19. “Go Your Own Way”
20. “Free Fallin’” (Tom Petty cover)
21. “Don’t Stop”
22. “All Over Again”