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San Francisco Examiner (10/15/1997), Mac still in attack mode < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

San Francisco Examiner (10/15/1997), Mac still in attack mode
Penguin

San Francisco Examiner 10-15-97

Mac still in attack mode

By Jane Ganahl

MOUNTAIN VIEW -- For better or for worse, the Mac is back.

Months ago, when I first heard that Fleetwood Mac, the once-huge '70s pop band, was making a new CD and going on tour, I was sure "the Mac" would be embarrassed when the world let loose a huge yawn.

OK, I'm big enough to admit I was wrong.

Not only did the new CD, "The Dance," debut at No. 1, but Fleetwood Mac's 40-city tour has been selling out huge venues, including the Shoreline Amphitheatre on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Fans are ecstatic to see the Mac back, but I've never quite understood their enthusiasm.

Sure, Fleetwood Mac was responsible for some great, catchy tunes. But here was a band that contributed little to the musical landscape of the '70s save an excellent soap opera acted out on one terrific album, "Rumours," which (not coincidentally) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

And 1977 was otherwise a year of huge musical leaps forward: Punk took off in the guise of the Sex Pistols, Talking Heads rode the crest of New Wave, and Patti Smith rocked. Then, as now, compared with groundbreaking acts, Fleetwood Mac served as a reminder of the bloated excesses of '70s pop.

But Fleetwood Mac's popularity was never based on being cutting-edge. It sold millions of albums because it was -- and still is -- accessible, non-threatening and extremely proficient. So when "Don't Stop" became the Clinton-Gore theme song and vaulted the band back into the public eye, you could almost see concert promoters salivate. Excellent timing for another tour for baby boomers, who feel alienated from alternative rock and have dollars to spend on the whopping $75 ticket price.

The 30- and 40-somethings who came Tuesday night were not disappointed.

For 2 hours Tuesday night, in a show that ranged from ridiculous excess to genuine excitement, Fleetwood Mac gave everything. In more than two dozen songs, culled largely from "Rumours" with dollops of >arlier work and side projects, the band rocked -- more like youngsters than 50ish former stars. At times, their enthusiasm was palpable, and the audience responded with screams of joy.

Although the band has gone through various incarnations in its three decades, it was the most successful version that has reconstructed for the tour: Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass, Christine McVie on keyboards, Stevie Nicks on vocals and Lindsey Buckingham on lead guitar. The "Rumours" gang.

Sensing the audience craving for that golden era, the band played it up. After a poignant duet on "Landslide," Nicks and Buckingham -- former lovers -- enjoyed a prolonged hug.

Buckingham, a Peninsula native, has always been the standout musician in the bunch; why he never became a bona-fide rock star is a mystery. Darkly handsome and an intense stage presence, Buckingham provided the evening's musical high note with his vibrant guitar solos -- especially on the acoustic "Big Love" from "Tango in the Night." And his new rockabilly ditty "My Little Demon" was a breath of fresh air. But the crowd was there for the hits and stood only for the really big ones.

Nicks was the crowd-pleaser, with her patented (and annoying to some) distracted-Ophelia routine and the highest platform heels this side of Kiss. Her rich alto, at 49, is as strong as ever. Especially good were "Gold Dust Woman," "Gypsy" and the classic "Rhiannon."

Christine McVie, alas, was not as up to snuff. "You Make Loving Fun" found her hesitant and unable to hit the high notes; she fared better on a country-flavored "Say You Love Me" and the somber "Oh Daddy."

Fleetwood and John McVie teamed up for a manic version of "Not That Funny," from the band's "Tusk" album. The enormously tall drummer emerged from behind his acre of drums to "play himself" -- drum pads he had attached to his body so he could thump away on his torso like a crazed break-dancer. As amusing as it was, it threatened to turn into an exercise in ego.

The show fared best when it was just the five members on stage. Unfortunately, for a fair amount of the time, it was more like the Fleetwood Mac orchestra, with two backup singers doing dippy movements in the back, an additional percussionist and two additional guitarists. Were they worried the fans would think they didn't get their $75 worth?

I'd say next time, leave the extra players at home and give us more time with Buckingham. He was worth the price of admission.

Thanks to CLMoon for posting this to the newsgroup.


Date: 1997-10-15         Number of views: 1221

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