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Hartford Courant (9/17/2003), New Fleetwood Mac tour debuts in Hartford today < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Hartford Courant (9/17/2003), New Fleetwood Mac tour debuts in Hartford today


New Fleetwood Mac tour debuts in Hartford today
This story ran in The Courant on September 17, 1997

"How does that feel?" Christine McVie asked.

Fleetwood Mac had just run through a version of Stevie Nicks' new song,
"Sweet Girl" from the group's No. 1 album "The Dance," on the stage of the Meadows Music Theatre in Hartford.

It was hard to tell from crowd reaction. Nobody clapped. And with the quintet augmented by three musicians and two backup singers, there were more people on stage than in the seats.

The 30-year-old band's most popular lineup was going through the final dress rehearsal Tuesday evening for the opening show in its reunion tour, which begins tonight in Hartford.

It made Fleetwood Mac the latest in a line of acts to use the 3-year-old amphitheater as a massive, lifesize rehearsal hall.

With no sporting events or circuses to work around, the indoor-outdoor amphitheater with a retractable back wall has been used increasingly for groups looking for a free stage to work out the kinks in gigantic tours.

The Fleetwood Mac equipment started arriving Sunday, just as repairs were being made after Friday's Pantera concert.

Technicians set up the rainbow-like arcs of lighting for the show, installed Mick Fleetwood's gong and adjusted McVie's grand piano at stage right. But it was up to Nicks to thread her own tambourine with a scarf as the rehearsal began about sunset Tuesday.

When the band -- which also includes founders John McVie and Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham -- returns to the fray after 15 years with the opening thumps from "The Chain" tonight, attention in the rock world will be focused on the Hartford show. Media and industry observers are expected in the crowd of up to 20,000 to witness the inaugural show by the reunited Fleetwood Mac lineup that produced one of the best selling albums of all time, 1977's "Rumours."

The 37-city tour is expected to be second only to the Rolling Stones' stadium tour as the most lucrative of the season, with tickets as high as $78 quickly selling out. Some general admission lawn seats for tonight's show are still available at $25.

Fleetwood Mac's tour was originally expected to begin at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass., this past weekend, but Jim Koplik, the longtime Connecticut promoter who is president of the Meadows, got on the phone, offering a deal on rehearsal space if the band would consider opening the tour in Hartford instead.

It worked.

Fleetwood Mac follows such artists as David Bowie, Aerosmith and AC/DC in using the Meadows for a rehearsal hall. Next month, the band Yes will rehearse at the Meadows Oct. 12 to 16 before the band's North American tour begins Oct. 17 at the Meadows.

Sometimes, rehearsals are not held immediately before show dates. Aerosmith rehearsed for three weeks in April, took its tour overseas and eventually played the Meadows in August.

Bowie rehearsed his tour in Hartford with Nine Inch Nails before it opened at the Meadows two years ago this month, but he returned to rehearse twice more -- first before his 50th birthday special for HBO at Christmas and again before an overseas tour -- even though no further public concerts were planned in Hartford.

Last summer, AC/DC rehearsed its part in Howard Stern's "Private Parts" movie, went to New York to film it and then returned to play a show in Hartford.

In some cases, a tour rehearsal in Hartford does not even include the band. That will be the case next week when the Jamiroquai tour will rent the Meadows to rehearse lighting in advance of some New York area dates for the British band, which won the MTV Video of the Year Award earlier this month.

Meadows general manager Dan Parise said the advantages of the Meadows for bands include one of the largest stages on the East Coast, good load-in access and reasonable stagehand costs. He also said that the Meadows is staffed with a lot of knowledgeable production personnel.

Parise, himself, is a former production manager who will resume that role for the Rolling Stones dates in New Jersey and Massachusetts next month. For the technical staffs of the bands, "To have a place where you can close the door on the pavilion -- that's everything for these guys," Parise said. Lighting directors often use the stage all night, he said, "so they can set up, fog it up and have a good idea of what it's going to look like."

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said he appreciated having a place like the Meadows for his band to rehearse.

"We were lucky in finding a venue that's big enough, that's willing to let us move in for two weeks and be able to support the whole show," he said, "because, basically, we're bringing in everything -- and finding a place that doesn't have a hockey game going on and all that stuff."

The proximity to Boston is no small consideration. "There's so much other stuff to do at that point," he said, "we wanted to be close to our business.

Still, Perry said Aerosmith did not have time to go out and sample Hartford nightlife as one might expect of rock bands.

"The amount of time we go out is negligible," he said. The band often got to the Meadows at noon and typically stayed until 1 a.m. "So we really don't get out. And when we weren't working, we'd jet back to Boston, or drive out and when we were done working, we'd drive back to Boston. It's just really convenient."

Parise said he recalls those weeks in April and hearing a helicopter engine in the parking lot. "Then, Steven Tyler pops out, boom!, from the middle of the sky," he said.

Another day, Parise said, he admired the fleet of cars the band drove down in from Boston -- identical late-model Porsches, each in a different shade.

Just because the stars tend to commute to Hartford rehearsals -- Bowie went back to New York each night -- that does not mean there isn't some economic benefit from the crew that stays.

Though Fleetwood Mac arrived only Tuesday, Parise said, "at the Sheraton[-Hartford Hotel], we've got 40 rooms booked this week."

Koplik said one crew member out buying provisions for the week spent $1,000 Sunday at a single North End grocery store.

While local news media will flock to the event tonight, Liz Rosenberg, a Fleetwood Mac spokeswoman, said Hartford will not be overrun with national news media.

"We had some requests, but basically the band's management asked me to give them a chance to do their show before an audience," she said. "They will have not played before a paying crowd in 15 years. So I'm honoring their request and it will be a fairly low-key opening."

The band was still tinkering with the set list during the Tuesday rehearsal, but it began the way the MTV special "The Dance" did .

Nicks described the show as "the same show that you saw on TV, with about a good solid half-hour or 45 minutes [more]. Plus, we learned five extra songs -- "It's Not That Funny" from Lindsey, "Stand Back" for me and "Little Lies" from Christine, which wasn't in the show. Then I think we'll do our acoustic rendition of "Farmer's Daughter," which we did on one of the records, and one other thing."

Nicks said it will be about a 2 1/2-hour set. "So like, bring supplies, a pillow, bring spending money, because it's going to be a long show," she said.

Thanks to 'Hartford Fan' for posting this to The Ledge.

Date: 1997-09-17         Number of views: 895

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