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Chicago Tribune (06/28/2003), Fleetwood Mac plays to its fans without falling into nostalgia trap < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Chicago Tribune (06/28/2003), Fleetwood Mac plays to its fans without falling into nostalgia trap

Chicago Tribune, June 28, 2003

Fleetwood Mac plays to its fans without falling into nostalgia trap
Combines strong new songs with its classics
By Joshua Klein, Special to the Tribune

Since ascending to the ranks of superstardom 30 years ago, Fleetwood Mac has posed a strange rock paradox: As many people revere the band for its brittle, beautiful songs as ridicule it as a symbol of '70s excess.

This puts the reunited band members in an awkward position.
If they play too many of their countless hits live, they get dismissed as a nostalgia act. But if they don't, they foster their reputation for narcissism and indulgence. Fortunately the absence of keyboardist Christine McVie from the current lineup forced fellow singer-songwriters Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to go head to head for the band's latest album, "Say You Will," and the pair came up with some strong new songs, even if the awkwardly skewed creative dynamics both help and hurt the group.

Fleetwood Mac sensibly decided not to replace McVie for its tour, though the band did enlist a half-dozen supporting players for its appearance at the Allstate Arena on Thursday night, the first of two just-shy-of-capacity shows.

Still, McVie's absence was felt. Opening with "The Chain" seemed odd, given the band's conspicuous missing link. Later, McVie's "Don't Stop," the penultimate song of the evening, featured Nicks filling in on vocals, but the song sounded rote coming from someone else's throat.

Just about everything in between, however, was a rousing testament to Fleetwood Mac's talents and, in particular, those of resident genius Buckingham.

Buckingham's a true rock eccentric who has turned his back on Mac many times before, and you get the impression he wouldn't bother touring were he not wholly committed. Only Steely Dan rivals Fleetwood Mac when it comes to delivering slick studio weirdness under the guise of soft rock, and Buckingham's strange bent brings out the best in the band.

But Thursday night, the band sounded neither weird nor soft. Buckingham displayed his unique guitar prowess, playing without a pick on both the acoustic songs and the electric rockers, his right hand flaying and flapping like a paddle. But Buckingham's is a surprisingly precise paddle, and whether performing the frenetic "Big Love" alone on acoustic guitar or taking an epic solo during "I'm So Afraid," he showed off his virtuoso, folk-formed technique.

Buckingham's longtime foil (and former lover), Nicks, didn't fare quite so well. Her various witchy personas -- designated by a selection of color-coded shawls -- were predictably trotted out during "Rhiannon," "Gypsy" and "Gold Dust Woman," but her affectations seemed kitschy and insincere. Much better were painful, personal songs such as the bitter and dramatic live standard "Silver Springs," about her breakup with Buckingham, which ended with the two locking shiver-inducing stares.

During the gorgeous "Landslide," a recent hit for the Dixie Chicks, the 55-year-old Nicks bravely sang about facing old age.

She was under 30 when she wrote the song, but with each passing year, her delivery grows more heartfelt.

Nicks also sang "Beautiful Child" from the band's unsung 1979 masterpiece "Tusk," but along with that album's ever-bizarre title track and an out-of-place version of Nicks' solo disco hit "Stand Back," the bulk of the set came from 1975's self-titled "Fleetwood Mac" disc, 1977's "Rumours" and "Say You Will."

Again, McVie's "Say You Love Me" and "You Make Loving Fun" were sorely missed, but the rest of the band made due with one less spotlight.

New songs, such as "What's the World Coming To" and the ballad "Say Goodbye," fit in with the classics remarkably well, and throughout bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood showed themselves to be one of classic rock's most reliable and supple rhythm sections.

As Fleetwood Mac's namesake and the only two remaining founding members, they also know what's good for the band: When in doubt, just let Lindsey loose and the rest falls into place. Spry and intense, he's a dynamo whose passion is irrepressible, keeping the group and its songs sounding youthful even as its members all turn gray.

Thanks to joe68 for posting this to the Ledge.


Date: 2003-06-28         Number of views: 1163

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