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Calgary Sun (07/08/2004), Mac in the saddle < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Calgary Sun (07/08/2004), Mac in the saddle

Calgary Sun, July 8, 2004

Mac in the saddle
by Mike Bell

“Turn it up!” It’s not something you expect to hear at a Fleetwood Mac concert populated as it was with people more likely to be found to be banging on their teenagers’ doors and screaming “Turn it down!”

But halfway through The Chain — the first of the ’70s staples performed July 7 during their sold-out Saddledome show — the battle cry politely came.

Oh, were it only heard. Unfortunately like most of the 21/2-hour Fleetwood Mac hit-stravaganza, it was lost, falling on deaf — though straining — ears.

Now, bad sound is nothing new to arena rock shows — especially it seems of late among those in the ’Dome — but it’s hard to recall an instance so crippling as it was to the cause of Fleetwood Mac.

The sound, quiet and incredibly static, virtually sucked the life and stole the energy out of what — visually, anyway — appeared to be a fine show from Mac’s four remaining principals and their six-piece supplement. (It improved only marginally throughout the night but not enough to really make a difference.)

Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham especially seemed on his game and full of the kind of vigour you’d expect, or at least hope, from someone half his age.

And to his credit, Buckingham’s sonically stifled enthusiasm almost punctured through the flatlining sound, most notably on the Rumours faves Second Hand News and Never Going Back Again.

But when ignorant cellphone users can top that without even raising their voices, then there’s a problem.

And it makes it hard, virtually impossible, to appreciate the still-superb musicianship of Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and singer Stevie Nicks, which, by the time it made its way up to the second tier, was woefully flat and dull.

And if the always giddy Tusk comes off as limp and muted, then you know the sound is a disaster.

The only real saving grace of the show — other than the effort — was the familiarity of the material.

(Yes, selling a gazillion albums worldwide has more than a few benefits, other than making your every vice a very real possibility.)

Right from the start, the show was top-heavy with the classics, with songs from their solid recent reunion record, Say You Will, peppering the proceedings without distracting too heavily from the aural stroll down memory lane.

Tracks such as Rhiannon made their mark only because through the murk you could close your eyes and summon Stevie singing it complete with the crisp LP crackle and pops.

It was a shame because you got the sense that through some tweaking it could have been as memorable a show as the last time they came through town a decade ago.

Sure, they were missing Christine McVie — the Betty to Nicks’ Veronica, the Marianne to her Ginger, the Mary-Kate to her Ashley, etc.

It’s nice to have that steady conservative foil to Nicks’ flighty banger diva, but to be honest, Fleetwood Mac themselves didn’t really seem to miss her.

Again, the four old friends/lovers/
husbands/wives/etc. played their parts and played well off of one another.

They did their jobs. The audience members played their parts. Everyone did what they came to do — except for the acoustics, the sound board and anything else associated with getting the music to the ears.

Date: 2004-07-08         Number of views: 1863

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