GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Fleetwood Mac, one of the most volatile groups in rock history, is back on the road with its classic lineup.
For the first time since 1998, when the group was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, singer/keyboardist Christine McVie is touring with singer Stevie Nicks, drummer Mick Fleetwood, guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and bassist John McVie. Oddly, it was less the group's infamous in-fighting - between she and ex-husband John, and the very public battles between ex-lovers Nicks and Buckingham - and more her fear of flying that prompted her retirement.
That's great news for fans of of Fleetwood Mac's signature 1977 album "Rumors," one of the biggest-selling albums ever in the United States - 20 million copies, double-diamond status, something only nine records have achieved. More tracks from that album are being featured on the current "On with the Show" tour, which is among the key things you should know about the band's current jaunt:
1. The return of McVie is big. As recently as 2012, Nicks wasn’t hopeful McVie would return, telling Rolling Stone, “there's no more a chance of that happening than an asteroid hitting the earth. She is done. You know when you look in somebody's face and you can just tell? She doesn't want to do it anymore.”
Obviously, that changed, and we didn’t have to be obliterated by a rock from outer space to get there. McVie, 71, overcame her phobia, joined the band on stage in 2013, and agreed to participate in the “On With the Show” tour. Earlier this month, Nicks told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “When we went on the road, I realized what an amazing friend she’d been of mine that I had lost…I never want her to ever go out of my life again, and that has nothing to do with music and everything to do with her and I as friends.”
2. It'll be McVie's first Grand Rapids performance with the band since 1971. She was absent for Fleetwood Mac's previous local show, a 2003 date at Van Andel Arena, which drew 12,000. (Nicks has been to town since, co-headlining the arena with Don Henley in 2005, for 6,000 fans.) Prior to that, the band, then featuring McVie, hadn't stopped by since a 1971 gig at the Grand Valley Armory, replacing an AWOL Deep Purple. If you say you were there, there's a good chance you're lying.
3. The second tour leg is now in full swing. The first leg of "On with the Show" kicked off in Minneapolis in Sept., 2014, and wrapped in Tampa. Grand Rapids is the third date of the second leg, which will stretch to Europe and conclude with a pair of Dublin gigs in July.
4. Ticket prices are high. That should come as no surprise to anyone – they top out at $179.50 (because $180 is apparently 50 cents too much), with “platinum seats” ranging from $275 to $450. That kind of dough hasn't dissuaded anyone, considering the Van Andel show is close to selling out. Compare that basic-ticket cost to fellow fogies- er, classic-rock act the Eagles, whose 2014 Van Andel Arena date topped out at $149.50. Fleetwood Mac's 2003 show cost up to $127, a noticable increase over the 1971 concert, which cost $3.
5. The new set list. With McVie back on stage, songs with three-part harmonies – e.g., “Rumors” track “You Make Loving Fun” – returned to the set. Expect a show just like those on the 2014 tour leg, with 24 songs, counting a healthy chunk of “Rumors”; it stretches to roughly three hours.
6. The reviews are good. There's no shortage of praise for McVie's return - the Tampa Bay Times said a Dec., 2014 show was better than Fleetwood Mac's previous, McVie-less performances, saying "The lightness and sweetness that McVie brought to the table counterbalanced – perhaps even enhanced – the rest of Fleetwood Mac’s hit-loaded set." Of a Denver performance, the Huff Post gushed, "the stunning show was... blessed with the valuable missing piece of the puzzle that turns an already priceless picture into a beautiful work of pop art."
7. This may be the end. Buckingham said as much during a recent interview with PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley. A new album, to be the band's first since 2003's "Say You Will," is in the works - long in the works, but still in the works - and won't be completed until the tour is over. If you believe this claim - and who can blame you if you don't, considering how difficult it is for the likes of Cher, the Eagles, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, KISS and other acts to retire - then this may be the last Grand Rapids show ever for Fleetwood Mac.