New York Times (05/24/2003), Turning 40: Even Bands Get Older
New York Times, May 24, 2003
Rock Review | FLEETWOOD MAC
Turning 40: Even Bands Get Older
By KELEFA SANNEH
NIONDALE, N.Y., May 24 — In rock 'n' roll, there are few things less exciting than a happy ending. Just look at Fleetwood Mac, the Anglo-American conglomerate that will celebrate its 40th birthday in a few years. Members have come and gone, and so have romances, feuds, battles with addiction, even — most dangerous of all — solo albums. Compared with the group's long career, a presidential term is merely a passing fad: Fleetwood Mac was there in 1993, to play Bill Clinton into office, and the group was there eight years later, to play him out.
And what's the reward for persevering so long? Yet another concert — this one at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night — on yet another tour supporting yet another album, entertaining the same fans who saw the band last time and will, most likely, see the band next time.
The band members had plenty of help: Stevie Nicks was shadowed by two backup singers, Mick Fleetwood was joined by a backup drummer (sometimes two) and Lindsey Buckingham had as many as three guitarists playing with him. In fact there were easily enough musicians onstage to form two Fleetwood Macs, which might be one way to justify ticket prices that reached $138.
The current incarnation is led by Mr. Buckingham, which is a problem for anyone who doesn't enjoy histrionic guitar solos, overheated vocals and pious speeches. He announced that "Say Goodbye," from the group's new album, "Say You Will" (Reprise), was "about coming to terms with the fact that there can be little gained without loss, and that there can be little healing without forgiveness." Mr. Buckingham certainly knows how to finger-pick an enchanting guitar line, but he spent too much of the night showing off; when he got really carried away, he would slap at his instrument with both hands, like a dog trying to unwrap a Christmas present.
Mr. Fleetwood's jolly crowd-baiting was a welcome antidote to Mr. Buckingham's self-seriousness, not least because it came in smaller doses. Near the end of the night he stepped out from behind the drum kit for an unusual solo, creating rhythms by tapping electronic pads affixed to his waistcoat and breeches.
Most of the best moments, though, belonged to Ms. Nicks. Her voice may not have the power and reach it once did, but it still has that marvelous texture, hard in the middle and girly around the edges. During "Landslide," she let out a half-smile when she sang, "But time makes you bolder/ Even children get older/ And I'm getting older too."
Ms. Nicks has long been mocked for the tassels that hang from her microphone stand, for the shawls she wears, for her twirling dance, for the way she spreads her arms and wiggles her fingers as if she were auditioning for a hand cream advertisement.
And yet Ms. Nicks's act has aged remarkably well, and she is now the only member of Fleetwood Mac (besides the reliable bassist John McVie) you can watch without wincing. She sang a gentle version of "Beautiful Child," from "Tusk," and the concert ended with a hushed rendition of "Goodbye Baby," a song by Ms. Nicks from the new album.
All night you got the feeling that Mr. Buckingham was desperately trying to infuse old songs with new energy. But Ms. Nicks took a more lighthearted approach, and a more appealing one. When she sang, eyes closed and fingers wiggling, she seemed content not to rejuvenate the songs, but merely to enjoy them.
Thanks to Saradorna for posting this to the Ledge.
2003-05-24 Number of views: