Democrat and Chronicle (05/15/2003), Review
Democrat and Chronicle, May 15, 2003
Review: Fleetwood Mac , May 15 in Buffalo
by Jeff Spevak
5/16/2003 -- Thirty years before the Osbournes, we had Fleetwood Mac: An odd
family stumbling through a haze of alcohol and drug abuse, contorted personal
relationships, cult religion and excessive material goods while it was heavily
scrutinized by an incredulous public. It was a group that escaped permanent
meltdown simply because we needed it for entertainment purposes.
Thursday night, the remnants of Fleetwood Mac stood before 13,000 people at
Buffalo's HSBC Arena as though none of that had happened. Mick Fleetwood,
Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and John McVie do look a little worse for the
wear. But so did most of their fans, who have stayed with them for all of these
Christine McVie is the sole Fleetwood from the band's giant '70s years to skip
this reunion. Filling in for her were two female back-up singers, a keyboardist, two guitarists and one -- and sometimes two -- extra percussionists. And the vocals on McVie's "Don't Stop"? Why, Nicks and John McVie took turns, bringing back images of Tipper Gore dancing at the 1993 Clinton presidential inauguration.
Although Fleetwood and John McVie -- Fleetwood Mac's namesakes -- have been the only members to stick with the band since its inception as a British blues band in the late '60s, it's really only Fleetwood Mac if Buckingham and Nicks are on board. The California soft-rock duo gave Fleetwood Mac the hugely commercial sound of the mid-'70s that most of the people in the HSBC Arena came to hear on Thursday night.
In its biggest hour, Fleetwood Mac was a bit shocking because it was the band
that slept together and did drugs together. Thursday night, the four looked like they'd come together for a college reunion after 20 years. They easily fall into the old roles, but the wild days are behind them, with Buckingham and Nicks exchanging frequent wistful looks over what had come and was now long gone.
Maybe there's still a little something there. Nicks' ghostly intro to the show-opening "The Chain" was jarred by Buckingham literally howling, "If you don't want me now!" The guy may still have some issues over that breakup. As the show went on, it became increasingly clear that this evening was a double date for 13,000 people and Nicks and Buckingham. When they hugged each other at the end of "Landslide," it was like watching the happy ending to a movie.
Hooray, they're back together! Someone in the front row even handed Nicks some roses then. What timing!
Buckingham -- stomping around the stage, turning up his guitar for frequent
solos -- is the one who seems most anxious to dispel any thoughts of this being
the Fleetwood Mac Oldies Revue. New material such as the chimey "Peacekeeper" and the prototypical Nicks gliding ballad "Say You Will," however, were greeted with polite approval.
More to the point on this tour, it was a great pleasure to hear Buckingham on
the acoustic guitar, picking his way through "Big Love," and as the lone accompaniment to the husky-voiced Nicks on "Landslide," which in the past year has been resurrected on the charts by the Dixie Chicks.
Animated drummer Mick Fleetwood stole the encore of "World Turning" with his scat bellowing, before leaping out from behind the drum kit to solo on an electronic percussion hidden in his vest. The University of Southern California marching band was present only in a video collage for "Tusk," which the fully armed Fleetwood Mac turned into a chaotic modern-rock orchestral movement.
Nicks was overwhelmed when this full-throttle engine shifted to "Stand Back," but she and Buckingham regained the upper hand moments later, with the help of the audience singing along to "Go Your Own Way."
Yet often the crowd seemed to have more energy for old faves like "Gypsy" than Fleetwood Mac did. Adoring cheers greeted the doomy opening riffs of "Rhiannon," although what followed didn't quite live up to expectations: Nicks seemed to rush her way through the song, and when she spread her arms to reveal the bat-like web of her black Miss Haversham funeral gown, Nicks twirled almost gimpily, which a half-century will do to a body. But when it comes to the inevitable frailties, the crowd was in a forgiving mood.
"I'm getting older, too," she noted a few songs later in the chorus of "Landslide," a sentiment that was cheered lustily.
And God bless the late, great June Carter Cash, while we're at it.
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