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San Francisco Chronicle (10/16/1997), Hearing Old `Rumours': Fleetwood Mac about the same as before < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

San Francisco Chronicle (10/16/1997), Hearing Old `Rumours': Fleetwood Mac about the same as before
Penguin

San Francisco Chronicle, 10-16-97

Hearing Old `Rumours': Fleetwood Mac about the same as before

By Joel Selvin

The very idea of Fleetwood Mac at this point is so riddled with holes, it wouldn't bear up under any scrutiny.

The return of the ``Rumours'' edition of the long-lived rock group Tuesday to Shoreline Amphitheatre represented nothing more than a fond return to glory days long past without the slightest link to anything in the present.

Yes, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham played one of the songs from his forth coming solo album, which occasioned this vaunted reunion, and Christine McVie offered a jaunty new pop song. But the band's overwhelming style so smothered even these slight offerings, it sounded like it picked up just where it left off 15 years ago.

After an MTV concert and subsequent live album, ``The Dance,'' drawn from that performance last May, Fleetwood Mac has sprung back to life. The album has spent the last seven weeks in the Top 10, and the two Shoreline shows this week sold 38,000 tickets, just shy of sold out.

This band's enormous appeal has always been based in a delicate chemistry -- three entirely different lead vocalists switching places at the front of the powerhouse rhythm section. While vocalist Stevie Nicks has usually served as the main focus -- with McVie offering a more earthy foil -- it was Buckingham who edged the massive sound toward any kind of intensity in the 2 1/2-hour show.

Nicks looked tired, a fatigue that her heavy layer of cosmetics couldn't disguise, but the crowd's adoration appeared to energize her as the proceedings progressed. Behind his drums, bug-eyed, mugging and grinning, Mick Fleetwood was obviously thriving. But, time and again, it was Buckingham who put the fire in the music.

The carefully orchestrated guitar choruses he tagged to the end of his first solo number, ``I'm So Afraid,'' synched with Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, built toward an explosive climax that drew a standing ovation. His solo acoustic reworking of ``Big Love'' was a wrenching, driven performance. Whether whipping the edge of the music with his big guitar sound or pumping passionate vocals into the mellifluous harmony blend -- his ``bom-bom-bom-bom'' vocals on ``Second Hand News'' throbbed with the feeling -- Buckingham pushed the band to its boundaries.

Actually the big Mac gave a better, more balanced show than it might have during its heyday. Nicks' vocal performance was studied and controlled, not the kind of wild, thrashing tirades in which she once specialized -- she skillfully navigated the flights of emotion on the final chorus of ``Gold Dust Woman.'' Her counterpart McVie was elegant and reserved, as always. The ensemble sound was polished and dignified, rounded out by no fewer than five additional singers and players.

And these songs of love gained and love lost have aged well. ``Rumours'' has come to be regarded as a classic album, a timeless piece of '70s rock. Although Mick Fleetwood dared to carry on with other musicians after the group crumbled, it was the sum of these five personalities that made the combustible, volatile combination.

Using the 1994 Eagles reunion as a template, Fleetwood Mac '97 reprised the band's past without apology or contrivance. The band no longer has an ongoing career. The creative collaborations long ago failed to produce comparable results. But just summoning up the smooth, assimilated pop-rock sound of ``Say You Love Me,'' the fire of ``Go Your Own Way,'' the mystical majesty of ``Rhiannon'' gives the venture meaning enough for an evening's entertainment.


Date: 1997-10-16         Number of views: 1306

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