San Jose Mercury, July 10, 2003
San Jose Mercury, July 10, 2003
They called it Fleetwood Mac, but Tuesday's largely excellent 2 1/2-hour show for a packed house at HP Pavilion at San Jose could have been the return of Buckingham Nicks.
That was the band guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks, who started playing together around San Jose, formed before 1974, when they joined the English rock and blues band that had been kicking around in a variety of guises since 1967.
With the absence of singer Christine McVie, who isn't on this tour, the duo was front and center all night, trading hits and more than a handful of new songs, sometimes apart, sometimes together.
They were backed by drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and an army of musicians, including two guitarists, two female singers, a second drummer and a keyboard player.
While the sound was full and loud on a mixture of tender ballads and surprisingly vital rockers, there were some problems.
The harmonies, formerly a Mac trademark, were gratingly off-key, usually the fault of Nicks. Her voice, which lumbered even in her prime, tripped around the notes, like a weak-ankled kid taking to ice skates for the first time. PLOP! BONK! OW!
It held true for only a few songs, including the rarely played ballad ``Beautiful Child,'' off 1979's ``Tusk''; the opener, ``The Chain''; ``Silver Springs''; and small backing parts on ``I'm So Afraid.''
It was particularly bad when she sang the Christine McVie part on ``World Turning,'' bouncing all over the place like a BB, hitting everything but the right notes, and on ``Landslide,'' on which she was eclipsed by other recorded versions, not only by the Dixie Chicks, but by the nasally challenged Billy Corgan.
Buckingham carried the night. He was as strong as Nicks was weak.
But this observation may be a gender thing. Because this audience, of mostly couples who were in high school when the Mac had its biggest hits in the mid-1970s, seemed split.
Women cheered Nicks and excused her vulnerability. They stood, danced and sang along during songs like ``Stand Back'' and ``Gold Dust Woman.''
(Maybe if you sang along, you couldn't hear the flaws?)
Men raised fists during Buckingham's long guitar jams on ``I'm So Afraid'' and ``Go Your Own Way,'' while women crossed their arms and looked bored.
For a rock guitar fan, his playing was a highlight. He took the stage solo, wringing enough passion out of a lengthy introduction to ``Big Love'' to draw a favorable comparison to the hot minimalist duo, the White Stripes. Buckingham didn't need the rest of the band to get the crowd soaring -- he was a one-man Fourth of July.
He rescued a floundering new song, ``Come,'' that went from being the worst song of the night to almost the best because of his roiling guitar thunder.
His singing was pure, and his compositions and arrangements put him in a league with his biggest influence, Brian Wilson, the genius behind the Beach Boys.
This show, which plays the Oakland Coliseum Arena on July 23, reminded me of the ``Double Fantasy'' album where John Lennon and Yoko Ono alternated songs. It was sheer torture at times and bliss at others.
But no matter which member of this duo you favored, the good moments were so good, they made you forget the bad.
Thanks to golden braid for posting this on the Ledge.