Cage Tour Review (Chicago Tribune)
It is no mere coincidence that the cover of Fleetwood Mac`s latest album, ``Tango In The Night,`` pictures a lush tropical Eden. The message is that all is peace and harmony in their little pop paradise.
Of course, rumors and clues to the contrary abound. It has been five years since the last group album. Stories of tensions in the studio during the recording of the new one persisted. And Lindsey Buckingham, a pivotal figure in Mac`s conversion from an obscure, faltering British blues band into worldwide pop idols, politely declined to come along for this tour.
None of this deterred 16,000 fans from braving the unseasonable chill Saturday night to see them at Alpine Valley. Nor did it stop the group, after a somewhat cool start, from delivering nearly two hours of pop perfection that artfully touched and expanded upon some of their greatest strengths as a group.
The show rested heavily on songs from ``Fleetwood Mac`` (or the
``White Album,`` as it is affectionately known) and ``Rumours,`` the record
that finally made them stars and, until Michael Jackson`s ``Thriller,`` was
the biggest-selling album around. ``Say You Love Me,`` ``Rhiannon`` and ``Go
Your Own Way`` were highlights of the show. The few songs from ``Tango``-``
Seven Wonders,`` ``Little Lies`` and ``Isn`t It Midnight``-got a much more
lively and effective treatment in performance than on record.
Perhaps best of all, though, were the several nods to Mac`s history: a
dexterous romp through the tricky time changes of ``Oh, Well,`` a silky
performance of ``Black Magic Woman`` from their first album and a stunning
version of the bluesy ``Rattlesnake Shake.``
The band members carefully shared and exchanged the spotlight
throughout the night. Even the two, count `em two, replacements for
Buckingham, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, got time center stage, and Vito`s
lead guitar work throughout the evening was crisply exciting.
Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks (decked out, as usual, in layers of
``leather and lace,`` topped by a collection of hats someone`s grandmother
would just adore) traded lead vocals, while Mick Fleetwood and John McVie
proved they remain one of pop`s most exciting and inventive rhythm sections.
Fleetwood also emerged from behind his drum kit for a marvelously
musical-and comical-drum solo during ``World Turning`` that featured him
playing electronic drums concealed in his clothes.
Billy Burnette, referring to rumors that this was Mac`s farewell
tour, said, ``We`re only just beginning.`` But the doubts remain. Perhaps,
too, the band has just about come to the end of their artistic road.
``Tango,`` at best, repeats the same pop formulas of the past. At worst, on
the execrable elevator jingle ``You and I`` or in some of Nicks` more tortured vocals and airheaded imagery, it borders on self-parody.
Still, Fleetwood Mac has survived the departures of Peter Green,
Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch along with many other tensions and near-collapses, so the band may last. And after a charming show like this one, you can only say, to borrow a title they borrowed, ``then play on.``