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Asbury Park Press (06/02/2004), Bond among players lights up Fleetwood Mac concert < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Asbury Park Press (06/02/2004), Bond among players lights up Fleetwood Mac concert

Asbury Park Press, June 2, 2004
REVIEW: Bond among players lights up Fleetwood Mac concert

Fleetwood Mac were in full crowd-pleasing mode Saturday at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.
by Mike Barris

HOLMDEL -- In soap opera, there's nothing like a separation to bring out the passion in lovers. Or, it seems, in rock musicians.

Saturday night at the PNC Bank Arts Center, four-fifths of the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup came together to dazzle a spirited holiday audience with a display of energy, joy and eclectic creativity that made it hard to believe they haven't been working together regularly for years.

The audience -- paying as much as $132.50 a ticket in a new era of concert-ticket inflation -- was on its feet most of the night.

Led by the fiery -- at times crazed -- guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, and the famously husky singing of Stevie Nicks, the band treated the crowd to a range of songs that reached all the way back to 'Rhiannon' and 'Landslide' from their 1975 blockbuster album, 'Fleetwood Mac,' to 'Say Goodnight,' from their latest CD, 'Say You Will,' released just last year.

Over the 2 1/2-hour show, which kicked off the 2004 concert season at the Holmdel amphitheater, the 10-piece band broke into an assortment of smaller ensembles to showcase a depth of talent and disparity of styles that made Fleetwood Mac one of the most creative and interesting acts in popular music.

After one of his long and spectacular guitar solos that were a high point of the evening, the ebullient Buckingham poignantly observed that Fleetwood Mac's story 'has been a long and always a strange trip.'

'The point is, here we are.'

Indeed, Fleetwood Mac's story is epic. Back in 1967, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass player John McVie met while toiling in the band of British blues pioneer John Mayall. Fleetwood and McVie left Mayall to form their own blues band, which they called Fleetwood Mac (incorporating the founders' surnames), with guitarist Peter Green.

Over the next decade, the blues fell by the wayside, the band changed its sound, added pianist Christine McVie (the bassist's wife), relocated to California from Britain and picked up Nicks and Buckingham, two Americans who were performing as a soft-rock duo.

The end of Nicks' and Buckingham's romance and the McVies' divorce, soon afterward, transformed the band creatively, resulting in 1977's 'Rumours,' one of the biggest-selling albums of all time.

Nicks, Buckingham and Christine McVie began to chase solo careers. Only Fleetwood and John McVie remained constant members of Fleetwood Mac through its four-decade evolution.

For this tour, which began early last month and is expected to conclude in July, Buckingham and Nicks rejoined the band, but Christine McVie opted to stay home. Augmenting the group are two backup singers, two guitarists, a keyboard player, and a percussionist.

Saturday, it was clear that performing together is second nature for the stars, who in 2003 went back into the studio as a group to record 'Say You Will.'

With drummer Fleetwood pounding out quarter notes (his image was beamed above on giant screens, where, leering, bandanna-headed and bearded, he looked like a demented pirate), the band opened with 'The Chain,' from 'Rumours.'

In full crowd-pleasing mode, they followed with their hit, 'Dreams,' also from 'Rumours.' Despite the obvious coarsening of Nicks' voice, this live performance of the song had a majesty not present on the commercially released recording.

Clad in a vampy black outfit that would have made Morticia of the Addams Family jealous, Nicks, who wrote many of the band's hits, exuded strength and authority. She also showed a liking for theatricality by attaching a red rose to her microphone stand and wearing an ever-changing variety of brightly-colored shawls. She danced around the stage, evoking her past affair with Buckingham; she pretended to box with him in one song and stood behind him, tenderly patting his shoulders while he took a solo in another.

The third song was 'I Know I'm Not Wrong,' from 1979's 'Tusk,' a progressive double album spearheaded by Buckingham. Bringing the audience to its feet with a fusillade of notes played with a fingerstyle technique more common to classical or folk guitar than rock, the 54-year-old Californian left you wondering how he could have remained overlooked by pop-music historians as a guitar great all these years.

Through the night he got crazier, occasionally allowing fans who crowded the edge of the stage to slap the strings of his guitar while he went down on one knee, fingering the notes with his left hand. The amount of energy he expended as he prowled around the stage and pumped out one furious solo after another was astounding, his age notwithstanding.

Besides full-group treatments of these songs and others, including Nicks' sultry 'Sara,' from 'Tusk,' and Christine McVie's 'Don't Stop,' from 'Rumours,' the evening included a pulsating acoustic treatment of Buckingham's folky 'Never Going Back Again,' another 'Rumours' gem, on which Fleetwood played a snare drum with brushes, and McVie acoustic bass.

'Landslide' featured Nicks singing alone, backed by Buckingham. The guitarist had the stage to himself for his hard-driving, emotional rendition of 'Big Love,' originally part of the 'Tango in the Night' album, on which he fingerpicked madly on an electric-classical guitar.

Fleetwood also treated fans to an unusual drum solo. Near the end of the show, he rose from behind his drum set and took the stage alone to tap his chest rhythmically -- hitting drums hidden and amplified beneath his vest -- while the added percussionist beat time in the background. It was an interesting piece of business for a while, but -- like most rock drum solos -- went on too long and became tedious.

The show included 'Beautiful Child' (from 'Tusk'), a newcomer to Fleetwood Mac's stage act. Nicks introduced the song saying it was the first time her composition had ever been presented live, calling it 'a special song.'

Despite their pursuit of solo careers, Fleetwood Mac endures as a whole. Whatever has changed, it was still something to see them all there together again. As Buckingham said, 'the point is, here we are.' Soap-opera survivors.

In music, as in life, marriage is never easy.

Date: 2004-06-02         Number of views: 1694

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