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Cleveland Plain Dealer (05/11/2003), Fleetwood Mac looking forward < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Cleveland Plain Dealer (05/11/2003), Fleetwood Mac looking forward

Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 11, 2003

Fleetwood Mac looking forward
by John Soeder, Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

Columbus- Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks didn't just sing to the audience. They sang to each other when Fleetwood Mac launched a 40-date tour here in Ohio with a concert Wednesday at Value City Arena.

Buckingham and Nicks took the stage with their arms around one another.

Anchored by mainstays Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass, the band breathed new life into "Go Your Own Way," "Tusk," "Rhiannon" and other time-tested favorites played alongside a good chunk of Fleetwood Mac's new album, "Say You Will."

The group performs Tuesday at Gund Arena.

"We're doing the best work we've ever done, on any number of levels," Buckingham said by phone last month from his hillside home in Bel Air, Calif.

"We've managed to keep the love for each other, too," he said. "I'm talking about all of us, how we all care for each other. The care is more intact now than ever."

Fleetwood Mac reunited in 1997 for a live album, "The Dance," and a greatest-hits tour. Buckingham downplayed those well-received projects as "a restatement of a body of work."

But he proudly talked up "Say You Will." For him, the latest album proves Fleetwood Mac has a bright future, not just a storied past strewn with Top 40 oldies.

"We've managed not only to survive our own individual struggles, but we've come through the other side as more competent musicians, as more competent writers," said Buckingham, 55.

Nicks turns 55 on May 26. Fleetwood is pushing 56; his birthday is June 24. McVie is 57.

"We're back!" a beaming Fleetwood shouted toward the end of the opening-night show.

A dramatic rendition of "The Chain" heralded their return. Buckingham and Nicks faced each other as they belted out the refrain: "And if you don't love me now, you will never love me again / I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain."

They took turns shining in the spotlight. Nicks cast a spell with "Gold Dust Woman" and Buckingham's guitar heroics made for some memorably unhinged moments.

Fleetwood Mac started out as a British blues outfit in the late 1960s. After numerous personnel changes and a shift toward pop-rock for the group, the American duo of Buckingham and Nicks joined in 1974 and took the band to the top of the charts.

The Who's "Tommy" was the first rock opera. But Fleetwood Mac's 1977 masterpiece "Rumours" remains the definitive rock soap opera, a collection of autobiographical songs recorded against a backdrop of emotional turmoil. Fleetwood was going through a divorce. Ditto McVie and his then-wife, Fleetwood Mac singer-keyboardist Christine McVie. A long-term relationship between Buckingham and Nicks also unraveled at the time.

To top it all off, Nicks and Fleetwood had a fling.

"Rumours" went on to sell 18 million copies. It's No. 9 on the Recording Industry Association of America's all-time best-seller list.

Buckingham parted ways with the band after 1987's "Tango in the Night" album.

"I needed to get some separation from Stevie especially, because I don't think I'd ever quite gotten closure on our relationship," he said. "I needed to get on with the next phase of my creative growth and my emotional growth.

"When you break up with someone and then for the next 10 years you have to be around them and do for them and watch them move away from you, it's not easy. . . .

"I don't think we could be doing what we're doing now on an emotional level or on a creative level, had there not been all the time apart."

"Say You Will," released April 15, debuted at No. 3 on Billboard's album chart. It has sold 369,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The ambitious album packs 18 tunes, with Buckingham and Nicks contributing nine songs apiece. He wrote the single, "Peacekeeper," at No. 10 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. She wrote the title track, a hope-springs-eternal singalong with backing vocals by John McVie's daughter, Nicks' niece and the niece's friend.

Buckingham's material had been slated for a follow-up to his 1992 solo album, "Out of the Cradle." A lack of interest on the part of his record company, Warner Bros., led him to rethink his plans and pursue a Fleetwood Mac project.

He was thinking big, too. Buckingham lobbied for a double album along the lines of the band's boundary-pushing 1979 release "Tusk."

He didn't get his wish. Nonetheless, with a total running time of 76 minutes, "Say You Will" covers a lot of ground on a single disc. "Illume (9-11)" is a Nicks-penned reflection on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "Murrow Turning Over in His Grave," the hymnlike ballad "Red Rover" and other Buckingham compositions take some welcome creative risks.

"Part of the give-and-take of Fleetwood Mac is what Stevie offers is more mainstream and a little less esoteric than what I have to offer," Buckingham said. "But it's part of what makes Fleetwood Mac what it is and always has been, the fact that you have these unlikely people, in some ways, working together, with a lot of disparate elements coming together."

The latest version of the group's ever-changing lineup does not include Christine McVie, who has opted for semire- tirement in her native England.

She makes a cameo appearance on "Say You Will," playing keyboards and providing harmonies on a couple of tunes.

"As great as her songs were on recordings, they were not, generally speaking, the strongest things live," Buckingham said. "As much as I respect Christine and her legacy, this is very much in the tradition of Fleetwood Mac remaking itself once again, in a slightly smaller way this time.

"In our hearts of hearts, we were quite intrigued and excited about the possibility of doing something different. Because Christine wasn't there, the musicians had more space to maneuver."

Buckingham, for one, made the most of the opportunity, flexing his guitar muscle throughout "Say You Will." By his reckoning, the result is a more "aggressive" sound.

"I'm a little bit territorial about what we've been able to achieve," he said. "If Christine were to call and say she wants to come back, would we say, 'No, you can't?' I don't know. As much as I love her, I would hope it doesn't happen. I feel like we're onto something very viable. In many ways, it's something Stevie and I have been waiting to do for a long time."

Only one McVie tune, "Don't Stop," made the 24-song set list in Columbus. The band's core foursome is accompanied on the road by two auxiliary guitarists, a keyboardist, a percussionist and two backing vocalists.

If Buckingham has his druthers, Fleetwood Mac will return to the studio soon to record another group effort. "I'm not going to jinx anything and say anything is definitely happening," he said.

The cover of "Say You Will" depicts Buckingham and Nicks reclining side by side, although in diametrically opposed positions.

Many of the he said/she said songs seem to be part of an ongoing conversation between the ex-lovers.

They could have titled the album "Guitar-Playing Studio Wizards Are From Mars, Tambourine-Rattling Gypsies Are From Venus."

But at least one new Buckingham tune isn't aimed at Nicks. Rumor has it the barbed, bluesy "Come" - a showstopper in concert - is about another one of Buckingham's former girlfriends, actress Anne Heche. Is this true?

"Um, well, I mean, uh, well, since you're asking, I would have to say yes, it is," Buckingham replied.

He acknowledged there are "elements of Stevie" in some of his other tunes on "Say You Will." But only one song, "Say Goodbye," deals directly with Nicks. He wrote it shortly after he bid adieu to her and the rest of Fleetwood Mac 16 years ago.

"You could say for me, a lot of being in the band was an exercise in denial," Buckingham said, "where you had to wrap up a whole set of feelings in one little corner of yourself . . . and just get on with what needed to be done - maybe not the most emotionally healthy thing.

"I've known Stevie since I was about 16. After I finally left the band, I was able to look back at all of it in a very tender way and say, 'Hey, look, this is what it is. It's kind of a dream within a dream. We all just did what we had to do.'"

"Say Goodbye" is the penultimate track on the album, which closes with the Nicks tune "Goodbye Baby" In recent interviews, she has made no bones about the fact that some of her songs are about Buckingham.

He sings: "Oh, I let you slip away, there was nothing I could do / That was so long ago, still I often think of you." She sings: "Goodbye, baby, I hope your heart's not broken / Don't forget me / Yes, I was outspoken."

"During the 'Rumours' days, we were writing these dialogues to each other in a much more treacherous way," Buckingham said. "Now we're sort of in the process of cementing a sense of trust. . . . At any given time, either one of us may venture out into showing the truth about a feeling or something toward each other - and then pull it back.

"When the dialogues take place now, they come with a sense of wisdom and sweetness. Maybe a little bittersweetness. But mostly sweetness."

Thanks to MacFan03 for posting this to the Ledge.

Date: 2003-05-11         Number of views: 2642

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