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Mercury News (10/16/1997), Fleetwood Mac Doesn't Stop < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Mercury News (10/16/1997), Fleetwood Mac Doesn't Stop

Mercury News, October 16, 1997, Section: Silicon Valley Life, Page: 20E



BY BRAD KAVA, Mercury News Music Writer

WHEN Fleetwood Mac announced its reunion tour, there was good reason to wonder whether what Rolling Stone magazine called the "drugingest band of the '70s" might not be as welcome today as a silver coke spoon at the Betty Ford Clinic.

But at Tuesday's surprisingly satisfying show at Shoreline Ampitheatre, the five formerly fighting, loving, drugging musicians showed that, like John Travolta, they could change the way they look and play and still create something that works, even a couple of decades later.

It was the first of two nights at Shoreline.

The 2 1/2-hour show, before a packed house that included more young people than you might expect, was driven largely by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who has become for the new Mac what Peter Green was to the blues Mac of the 1960s.

This was a homecoming for the 50-year-old Peninsula native, and his guitar playing, both in his solo set and backing singers Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie on their songs, was the highlight of the balmy night. It more than made up for his shaky singing, after a week in which the band canceled one Vancouver show and an ailing Buckingham croaked his way through another in Tacoma.

Tinkering and updating

From the show's opener, "The Chain," off 1977's 17 million-selling "Rumours," through more obscure songs such as "Not That Funny" (off 1979's "Tusk") and the new "My Little Demons," Buckingham kept tinkering, changing and updating the material.

He spun a web of a spiraling solo on McVie's "Oh Daddy" that was unlike anything on the "Rumours" original. He picked up a banjo for "Say You Love Me," a single that helped make 1975's "Fleetwood Mac" the band's first multimillion-selling album.

He toned down "I'm So Afraid," the 1975 song that became a raging guitar showcase in '80s live performances. The solos were still long, but he played with a Santana-like finesse. Later he ripped up an acoustic guitar for a solo turn on 1987's "Big Love" and mixed classical and flamenco styles on a solo version of "Go Insane."

A revelation

Given that Buckingham is on virtually no one's list of great guitarists, his playing was a revelation. He was a raw nerve of fiery passion and ambition, surpassing -- to my mind, at least -- the talents many so-called technical virtuosos.

All of which isn't to say that the other Mac members didn't have their moments, as the three alternated songs and vocal leads. Nicks' voice isn't what it was 20 years ago, but she held her own on lower keys. Her "Silver Springs," an outtake from the "Rumours" sessions, was a haunting look at love lost. And her "Gold Dust Woman" was a prescient warning of the toll drug abuse takes.

McVie was stalwart, vocally perfect, her voice looping around Buckingham's guitar on her 1987 "Everywhere" from "Tango in the Night." Her ex-husband John McVie was also solid on bass, barely messing with a solo on "Not That Funny" before Mick Fleetwood went into his drum solo, pounding on electronic drums hidden in his costume.

Some weaknesses

There were some early weaknesses in the set. On ensemble songs, the three voices sounded as though they were taking a secret vote. Not everyone was unanimous about the key, and it was hard to pick out who was hitting clunkers. Two background singers and two acoustic guitarists helped flesh out the sound on some of the hits.

Fleetwood Mac sounded better when only one voice was in front and the piece was in a comfortable key, or when band members helped each other with small fills, such as Nicks lifting her hand to her mouth to do a classic rock 'n' roll background on "I'm So Afraid."

Overall, Fleetwood Mac played long enough, at 25 songs, to give most everyone what they would want, worth the $36 and $75 tickets. They heeded the advice of their songs: They didn't stop and weren't afraid to change.

Thanks to Karen for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.

Date: 1997-10-16         Number of views: 1338

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