Billboard Magazine (05/15/2003), Fleetwood Mac
Billboard, May 15, 2003
Fleetwood Mac / May 13, 2003 / Cleveland (Gund Arena)
by John Benson
Like old friends who get together every few years, Fleetwood Mac and its fans reunited again Tuesday night (May 13) at Cleveland's three-quarters-filled Gund Arena for a trip down memory lane, pulling out songs like old snapshots and contrasting them with new endeavors.
The result was at times emotional, and always powerful, as the '70s rock giant proved its chain remains unbroken despite the fact longtime member Christine McVie is not in the fold. (McVie does make an appearance on the band's most recent disc, "Say You Will," but is not touring with the group.)
For decades, the politics of sex and love fueled the fire behind Fleetwood Mac, but the onstage tension that was so palatable during the "Rumours" era no longer carries the same emotionally charged weight. Instead, when former lovers Stevie Nicks (vocals) and Lindsey Buckingham (guitar/vocals) exchange glances on stage, which they do quite frequently, what was once a glare appears to have become a common bond of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. That said, the gravitas of sentiment still exists, and Fleetwood Mac's ability to play out or capitalize on the melodrama of the moment explains why its hits, and even newer material, can still inspire the same emotion experienced decades before.
Sauntering onstage in front of a blue backdrop, Nicks, Buckingham, John McVie (bass), and Mick Fleetwood (drums) started the evening off with the familiar sounds of the '70s classic "The Chain," which was followed by the equally compelling "Dreams." Backed by seven supporting members, the band's sound was crisp and tight, although Buckingham did have technical guitar problems that stopped the show numerous times.
A youthful looking Nicks, dressed in her quintessential black with a revolving door of shawls to complete her gypsy-singer persona, was in particularly good voice. She used her trademark nasal/gravelly vocals to play counterpoint all night long to the overpowering guitar energy of Buckingham. The lines of demarcation between Nicks' and Buckingham's material were obvious, with Nicks often responsible -- through no fault of her own -- for the loss of momentum due to the gentle nature of her songs compared to the bravado of Buckingham's.
Without McVie, often the writer of the band's most standard pop/rock fare, Buckingham's guitar presence took center stage throughout the majority of the 24-song, 140-minute set with impunity, proving his talents and musical ability are the lifeblood of Fleetwood Mac.
From the picking style of "Second Hand News" and the sweet melodies of "Never Going Back Again" to the acoustic solo display of "Big Love" and the overpowering effects of "I'm So Afraid," Buckingham's unique method, in which he pulls the strings without using a pick, was simply breathtaking. Triumphant moments for him were many, particularly the new discordant track "Come," which started somewhat sloppy (many audience members headed for the bathroom). But it slowly brewed into a guitar-sizzling fervor, eventually climaxing with Buckingham's odd-looking doggy-paddle arm motion on his strings creating a frenetic sound that earned a standing ovation. Make no mistake, Fleetwood Mac has various personalities in concert, but Buckingham's presence is the reason why the band flies so high on stage.
Speaking of characters, Fleetwood has retained his maniacal percussive style, with eyes screaming bloody murder and bombastic beats providing the backbone of Fleetwood Mac's attack. A drum solo, which found him wearing vest complete with electronic pads played by Fleetwood's fingers, was somewhat interesting during the encore, but grew tiresome.
The band succeeded in providing a well-rounded set that included obscure material ("Beautiful Child" and "Eyes of the World"), lost hits ("Gold Dust Woman" and "Landslide"), and familiar anthems ("Don't Stop" and "Silver Springs").
Invariably, Fleetwood Mac remains tethered to its past. The shadow of lost love and the bitterness that followed seem as important as the group's musical vitality. However, the stage show is not so much a celebration of nostalgia, but rather of the spirit of growing and moving on while still remembering. And for Fleetwood Mac, and its fans, that's still a formula for success.
Here is Fleetwood Mac's set list:
"Eyes of the World"
"Second Hand News"
"Say You Will"
"Never Going Back Again"
"What's the World Coming To"
"Gold Dust Woman"
"I'm So Afraid"
"Go Your Own Way"
Thanks to Tommer for posting this to the Ledge.
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