Material might be familiar, but time hasn't hurt well-loved tunes
By Dave Tianen of the Journal Sentinel
June. 9, 2009
The classic Fleetwood Mac lineup has released exactly one album of new material in the last 21 years.
Monday night in concert at the Bradley Center, they totally ignored that one album, "Say You Will."
I seriously doubt anyone cared. The Big Mac is on the road to milk the catalog, and that is surely what the fans want. Of the 23 songs in the current set, 14 are from the two classic mid-'70s albums, "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours." Those are two of the classic pop rock albums of the '70s, or any other decade for that matter. It's a set list loaded with hits and classics, including "Rhiannon," "Dreams," "Gold Dust Woman," "The Chain," "Landslide," "Monday Morning," "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop."
When a huge band decides to take the oldies route and work the old hits, some questions are logical. First of all, do they seem bored or just going through the motions? The answer to that would seem to be an emphatic no. If Lindsey Buckingham was bored Monday night, it was the most frenetic display of tedium I have ever seen in my life. There is also a slight freshening effect because the old Christine McVie hits have now been parceled out between Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
Second, has the passage of time and the weight of the years compromised their ability to deliver the goods? That's a logical question. Buckingham will turn 60 on Oct. 3, and he's the youngest person in the band. Again, Buckingham is a dynamo physically. He may be the only 59-year-old guitarist on the planet who bounces when he plays.
If Buckingham is the engine and musical master behind Fleetwood Mac, Nicks was always the visual and theatrical center. That still holds true in slightly muted form. Although she still dresses in shawls and loves to strike theatrical poses on stage, Nicks isn't quite the wood sprite sex kitten of yore. We got exactly one of the old spinning moves with the arms outspread. At 60, Nicks is a little less Tinker Bell, a little more the well-preserved Witch of Eastwick.
One of the smart things they're doing on this tour, since there aren't any new songs: They're giving us something new about the old songs. In introducing "Gypsy," Nicks reminisced about the first band she shared with Buckingham and their days of opening for Santana and Janis Joplin in San Francisco. Buckingham spoke at some length about how "Big Love" became the template for the solo songs he wrote later in his career. This is a band with history, and I think it's wise to share it with the audience.
And as Buckingham acknowledged, they also have a "complex" emotional history. Those old storms seem to have quieted with the years, and at least on stage Buckingham and Nicks seemed to have reached a state of genuine warmth and affection.
One other thing came through. I'm not sure Buckingham has ever quite gotten the credit he deserves as a guitarist. For several tunes, in the second half of the set, it was just Buckingham playing behind his own voice and Nicks, and the sound never seemed withered or small.