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The Washington Post (09/27/1997), Nissan Pavillion < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

The Washington Post (09/27/1997), Nissan Pavillion

By Richard Harrington
Monday, September 29, 1997; Page D07
The Washington Post

At their jampacked (and traffic-jam-producing) concert at Nissan Pavilion Saturday night, a reconstituted Fleetwood Mac sounded well rested and refreshed by its old material rather than burdened by it. Like the Eagles before them, Fleetwood Mac imploded in the 1980s and its five members had to go their own way and stand apart from the madness of being one of the most popular bands in the world. Before this reunion, it had been 10 years since Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded together, 15 since they'd last performed in concert. Yet at Nissan, the band evinced no rust, no barnacles, no cobwebs. Despite old lyrics that touched on fractured emotional bonds, the five sounded as if they'd never been anything but best friends.

They opened with "The Chain," which likens relationships to slavery and has taken on a subtext of the band's own history. Yet when Fleetwood Mac sang, "If you don't love me now, you will never love me again," "The Chain" seemed less about bitterness than resolution -- as long as there's no ball of expectations attached.

Over the 2 1/2-hour show, the band performed nine of the 11 songs on "Rumours," hardly surprising since Bristow, VA-- By Frank Johnston, Washington Postthis is the 20th anniversary of the third-bestselling album of all time. With a little help from some friends, they replicated the studio-sculpted sonics that made Fleetwood Mac just what its initials implied: FM radio staples. They reconditioned a few songs, notably "Say You Love Me," somehow reimagined as electric busking and led by Buckingham's banjo. They also performed several new songs, which suffered somewhat from their unfamiliarity.

And everyone got enough space. Fleetwood Mac's particular grace was always the strength and character of its three distinctive voices -- in terms both of singing and songwriting. To oversimplify: There's Christine McVie the romantic optimist, Buckingham the pessimist and Nicks the idealist. Their music is, respectively, buoyant, tortured and ethereal.

Nicks shone on the wistful "Dreams" and "Rhiannon" and the airy "Gypsy," her sweetly ragged voice turning darker on the defiant "Stand Back" and insistent on "Silver Springs," a song from the "Rumours" era that built to a powerful climax and provoked such a huge audience response you'd have thought it was a hit (it wasn't). "Gold Dust Woman," Nicks's confessional about digging her own grave with a silver spoon, was appropriately terse and taut. And there was an aching vulnerability to "Landslide," which Nicks performed backed only by Buckingham's acoustic guitar and which ended with a dramatic, and symbolic, hug.

Christine McVie's soulful energies -- and her inherent cheerfulness and resilience -- were evident on the bouncy devotional "Everywhere," "You Make Loving Fun" and the new "Temporary One." She also evoked remorse on "Oh Daddy" and quietude on "Songbird," though the rote reaction to "Don't Stop" suggested there were a lot of Democrats in the audience.

Truth be told, Lindsey Buckingham stole the show, though long- and loose-limbed drummer and madman Mick Fleetwood gave it a good shot with his over-the-top I-am-the-body-electric showcase on "Not That Funny." What set Buckingham apart were fluid and fervent guitar solos that always seemed shaped less by technical facility than by emotional need; the keening urgency of both his singing and playing; and brilliant dark songs that verge on primal therapy, such as "I'm So Afraid" and "Big Love." On the solo acoustic "Go Insane," Buckingham somehow conjured a fulsome, fearsome sound that Led Zeppelin would have appreciated, and he and Fleetwood helped underscore the martial sprawl of "Tusk."

It's too early to tell whether the ecstatic response to the reunion tour and the commercial success of the band's new live album, "The Dance," will be enough to make Fleetwood Mac start thinking about tomorrow.

What's clear, however, is that separation has erased the anxiety and contention that inspired the band's music in the '70s and early '80s. What's left is more fondly remembered than what started it.

Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

Date: 1997-09-29         Number of views: 1674

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