Sunday, February 01, 2015

Review | Videos: Fleetwood Mac Live in Buffalo, NY - January 31, 2015

Fleetwood Mac bewitches crowd at First Niagara Center
By Jeff Miers

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There needs to come a point when you believe in the band. Otherwise, you’re watching a classic rock jukebox.

We look for that moment when we forget about the baby sitter, the $200 or so spent on the ticket, the fact that we’ve heard these tunes more than a million times.

On Saturday, during Fleetwood Mac’s close-to-sold-out performance in First Niagara Center, that moment came early. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham strode to the edge of the stage after the lights had been dimmed, looked around, said a brief hello to the front rows, and then dug into the swampy and sultry deep blues riff that signifies the beginning of the Mac’s evergreen hit, “The Chain.”

Buckingham hunkered down, dug into it, and made it plain to all that he had come not merely to collect a paycheck, but to play.

From there on, it was smooth sailing.

Buckingham led the version of Fleetwood Mac that most of us know and love – the group responsible for “Rumours,” “Tusk,” and “Tango In the Night” – through a hits-heavy set that walked the tightrope between easygoing ’70s pop-rock and deep-cutting avant-garde pop.

Of course, Buckingham is not the most famous member of Fleetwood Mac. That would be Stevie Nicks, his ex, and forevermore his partner in pop. Nicks is an icon, but Buckingham is a musical genius. On Saturday, their sparring made for abundant entertainment.

Fleetwood Mac has made a habit of including Buffalo in its tours since re-forming in the late ’90s. But this particular tour stop boasted something more than simply a run-through of “Rumours” and associated hits. This was in fact the first time area audiences have seen keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie perform with the band in more than 15 years. McVie’s tunes – her “You Make Loving Fun,” “Everywhere,” “Say You Love Me” and “Over My Head,” among others – offered soulful highlights. She seems to have lost nothing in the vocal department – she nailed every part she should have, and did so with soul.

This was a hits show, to be certain, but in Fleetwood Mac’s case, that needn’t be a negative. The group has scored platinum with some rather adventurous tunes, and a mid-set focus on the freak manifesto that is “Tusk” made this plain. Buckingham’s “I Know I’m Not Wrong” and “Tusk” led nicely into Nicks’ “Sisters of the Moon,” and earned the crowd’s respect, apparently. The place exploded.

Nicks doesn’t have the voice she once did, but then, who would? She’s in her later 60s now, and if she couldn’t hit the high notes during “Rhiannon” and “Dreams,” she wisely chose the low road, while three backing vocalists, joined by Buckingham and McVie, fleshed out the harmonies. None of it felt fake or forced – this was a band that seemed grateful to be playing for an appreciative audience.

Nicks told a particularly cool story that involved her trademark top hat, an accessory she was rarely seen without during Mac’s “Rumours” heyday. The singer told the assembled that it was during a tour stop in Buffalo – one assumes that it would have been the 1975 pre-”Rumours” stop that is recorded as having taken place at the old Century Theatre – that she purchased said hat. This brought a huge roar from the crowd, which was made up of a cross section of 50-, 40-, 30- and, surprisingly, 20-somethings.

Fleetwood Mac still has it, as Saturday’s show made plain. Everyone pulled their weight, especially the recently returned McVie, whose voice was pure gold.

But like every other Fleetwood Mac show since he joined the band in 1974, this one belonged to Lindsey Buckingham. He is one of the true pop geniuses to have emerged from the ’70s, and on Saturday, he proved it one more time.

Fleetwood Mac Live in Buffalo
T-MAK WORLD also reviewed the show... Check out their review here.

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