By: Rege Behe
Because they are a staple of classic rock radio, it's easy to take Fleetwood Mac for granted. Songs that have been heard for more than 30 years tend to lose a bit of their luster after repeated plays.
On the opening night of the band's Unleashed Tour Sunday at the Mellon Arena, those oft-heard tunes were dusted off and given new life. From the opening chords of "Monday Morning" it was immediately apparent that this was not going to be a typical recitation of the band's greatest hits.
Most of that is due to the wondrous talents of Lindsey Buckingham. While his voice was initially a bit raspy, notably on "The Chain," his vocals got better as the night wore on.
But chances are no one who attended the concert noticed much about the quality of Buckingham's singing. Not after the way he "unleashed" some of the more evocative guitar solos heard in these parts in recent memory. Especially noteworthy was his solo, acoustic version of "Big Love" and the amazing Guitar Hero- worthy performance on "I'm So Afraid" that electrified the audience. He also did a more than credible job on the ancient Fleetwood Mac chestnut, "Oh, Well."
Next, Steve Nicks. Her smoky voice shows little wear, and if she's somewhat less energetic that Buckingham — for most of the evening they performed about 15 feet apart from each other — she nonetheless has a charismatic aspect that made songs such as "Dreams" and "Rhiannon" memorable. Most notably, Nicks did well by "Storms," a gem from the album "Tusk" that the band resurrected for the first time in years.
But the shape of Fleetwood Mac's is due to the band's rhythm section, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. It was McVie's melodic bass lines and Fleetwood's superb way of shaping a song via percussion that gave "Tusk," "Gold Dust Woman," "Go Your Own Way" and just about any other song the band performed definition and backbone.
If there was a flaw in the evening — a big if — it was the continued absence of Christine McVie on songs such as "Don't Stop," "Say You Love Me" and "World Turning." Buckingham and Nicks did a credible job filling in, but McVie's voice is nonetheless missed.