Monday, March 16, 2009
By KEVIN O'HARE
If you're sick of superstar bands going out and playing too many obscure songs during their concerts, then Fleetwood Mac's first tour in five years will hold a whole lot more appeal for you.
The 1970's superstars are out on the road and bringing a truckload of hits with them on their "Unleashed" tour, which was unleashed Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
While the Mac went through plenty of personnel changes during decades of rockin', this tour features four-fifths of their most famous lineup. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks, and founding fathers Mick Fleetwood on drums on John McVie on bass are all there. Unfortunately the great keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie, who retired from the band in the late 1990s to return home to England, is not back on board for the latest reunion and early rumors that Sheryl Crow would take her place blew up when Crow blabbed about it before the agreement had been finalized.
Nevertheless, there's plenty to like about this tour, which finds Buckingham in particular as well as Nicks out front and in fine form.
With tickets priced between $125 and $175, this wasn't a cheap seat, but the band nevertheless played to a packed house.
Accompanied by two additional musicians and three female backing vocalists, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees opened the two-hour and 20 minute performance with "Monday Morning" before Fleetwood's huge, pounding beat drove "The Chain," and Nicks said it was time to "get this party started" with a crowd-pleasing take of "Dreams."
Early in the concert, Buckingham acknowledged Fleetwood Mac's "convoluted and complex emotional history." It was a supreme understatement for anyone who's followed the band's soap opera-like journey through the decades.
"Because there is no new album to promote - yet," he said, teasing the audience with the implication, "we're just going to do the things that we love and hopefully you love as well."
It appears they succeeded on all levels.
Centered between two of Nicks' signature songs, "Gypsy," and "Rhiannon," Buckingham turned in a drop-dead brilliant "Go Insane," filled with the mesmerizing finger-picking and pure passion that he exhibited nearly every time he stepped into the spotlight Saturday.
"Tusk" started slow and somewhat eerie but built to a huge ending before Nicks brought her raspy lower range into focus for "Sara," while Buckingham offered the high harmonies.
An acoustic triad featuring "Big Love," "Landslide" and "Never Going Back Again," was placed perfectly into the set, which also included a few genuine rarities, including one they had never played live before this tour, 1979's "Storms."
While this is definitely a Buckingham and Nicks kind of tour, they did acknowledge Christine McVie with a sharp arrangement of the latter's "Say You Love Me."
Buckingham's firepower reached staggering heights when he did "Oh Well (Part 1)" from the days when Peter Green played lead guitar for Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham's take brought the house down, as did the follow-up "I'm So Afraid."
The night wound down with highlights that included "Go Your Own Way," and encore faves such as "World Turning," complete with a very amusing tribal drum solo courtesy of Fleetwood; "Don't Stop;" and a moving version of "Silver Springs."