Sunday, April 05, 2015

Tomorrow is here: Mac are back

Here comes another, yes, another Fleetwood Mac reunion gig.

DON’T STOP thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop – it’ll soon be here. That’s right:

Sunday Star Times - New Zealand Apr 5, 2015
The future is hurtling towards us at high speed, and for those with the inclination and the cash, that future may well include a Fleetwood Mac concert.

All five members from the band’s golden period have regrouped and are about to descend upon our shining shores, with singer/keyboardist Christine McVie back in the fold after a 16-year absence. Their world tour hits Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on November 18 and Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on November 21.

Dreams. The Chain. Go Your Own Way. Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours got a thrashing when I was in my teens. Recorded during a time of wholesale disharmony and clandestine rooting within the band’s ranks, its mix of burnished Californian melodies and emotionally overwrought lyrics somehow made perfect sense to me as I rode the rapids of puberty.

Back then, Stevie Nicks, a vision in chiffon and lace, was a regular visitor to the very rudest of my dreams, swirling around so vigorously that her crooked gypsy hemline encountered unprecedented wind resistance, causing her dress to disintegrate before my thankful eyes. But when I got her on the phone in 2009, I was the very soul of professionalism, and so was she. ‘‘ Rumours came out of a very dark period,’’ she told me from her home in Santa Monica.

Now 66, I pictured her still rocking the blonde dye-job and raggedy hems in some beatnik mansion with ethnic rugs, bead curtains, crystals on windowsills: ‘‘We were telling stories everybody could relate to, so people carried those songs around like their own little mantras.’’

The Rumours era was a particularly crazy time, she said, and being constantly out of it didn't help. ‘‘At the time, everyone thought cocaine was just a recreational drug that could not hurt you. Being idiots, we all said, ‘OK, great, get me some’. Now, of course, I have a terrible hole in my nose that really affects my singing, so it did hurt me. And, of course, nobody was just doing cocaine back then. It was like: ‘I’m too low, so I’ll do some coke, then I’m too nervous, so I’ll smoke some pot, and then I’m too stoned, so I’ll have a big old shot of brandy, and then I’ll smoke a cigarette to wake myself back up again.’ It was a big nasty circle, and my advice is not to try it, because rehab is no fun whatsoever.’’

Nicks wasn't the only band member who went off the rails in the wake of Rumours’ astonishing success. Heavily addicted to cocaine and alcohol, drummer Mick Fleetwood found himself living in a friend’s damp basement by the mid-80s, watching soap operas all day. In 1987, a mere decade after releasing an album that made more money than the GDP of many small countries, he filed for bankruptcy and entered rehab soon after.

‘‘We were really in some kind of strange dark days of substance abuse, just living that rock’n’roll cliche,’’ he told me by phone in 2002 in a lovely posh English accent. ‘‘We made an awful lot of money and lost touch with the more important things, so marriages fell apart, relationships crumbled and so on. I’ve come to terms with it now, and I’m not like that anymore, but for about 10 years I was a bit of an asshole.’’

But time, they say, is a healer, and the show must go on. When I talked to her, Nicks was honest enough to admit that Fleetwood Mac is primarily a business venture these days, sustained more by stubbornness than any burning creative impulse. ‘‘We made a lot of money together, so whenever things went bad, we would say – is this really worth ending Fleetwood Mac over?’’

The answer would seem to be no, because here they are, together again. Before we know it, Fleetwood Mac will be here, a blast from the past, knocking out the hits like there’s no tomorrow. They’ll be here, better than before. Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

She went her own way; now she’s back

A QUIET life in the country was never going to be enough for Christine McVie: the original gypsy is back on the road.

After 28 years with soft rock legends Fleetwood Mac, the pianist, singer and ingenious songwriter left the group in favour of a ‘‘rather fanciful idea’’ of being a lady of leisure.

Rumours were rife about the real reason for McVie’s departure: another falling out in the group? A rift with Stevie Nicks? Various suggested scandals?

Now that she’s returned after 16 years out of the music scene, she’s revealed the real reasons and they’re not what people expect.

One: she got tired. Two: she had a fear of flying. ‘‘Fear of flying was actually probably the major thing, but the other thing was that I was just really tired of living out of suitcases, just the travel. It was never the show, never the band.’’

She’s on the phone after the band have just finished their United States leg of a reunion tour which arrives in New Zealand in November. Reviewers have said the same as McVie, who with joy and emotion evident in her voice, says: ‘‘It’s unbelievable. It’s just the last thing we all expected, really truly wonderful. It feels like a real resurrection.’’

Even more exciting for fans of Fleetwood Mac is that McVie’s returned to songwriting. In her 16 years off, she says she barely even thought about music.

‘‘I had a fanciful idea that I would be a retired lady living in the country with a couple of retrievers, cooking biscuits for the YWCA and driving the Range Rover. And I did get that dream. I restored a beautiful house in the country. And then, slowly, I got bored,’’ she says.

‘‘I started to diddle around on the piano. Then a couple of years ago, it came to me as sort of an epiphany. I just thought: ‘I want to go back’.’’

Serendipity happened. She met up with Mick Fleetwood in London and went with him to Fleetwood’s home in the Hawaiian island of Maui, playing in his blues band . . . ‘‘until one day I just said, ‘Mick, what would it be like if I was to come back to the band?’ They said to me, ‘well, if you really mean it, you’d better commit’.’’

So she did. McVie got psychiatric help to battle her fear of flying and threw herself back into music, finding a safety and comfort there without ‘‘all the angst’’ there once was. ‘‘It was a leap of faith really. I think we all felt it was a special moment, where we just all knew that it was the right move.’’

Since then, she and Lindsey Buckingham have been writing together, working on a new album which has ‘‘all the harmonies and things you would expect from the early days of Fleetwood Mac, but sounds new and fresh’’.

‘‘It was a struggle at first because I didn’t really know how to create. I kept thinking that I was repeating myself or plagiarising myself or somebody else, but . . . it’s working really well. I feel as if I’d never left.’’

McVie promises she’s back for good. They've all signed on for as long as they can keep it up and she declares: ‘‘The band just sounds better than it ever did.’’ Fleetwood Mac play Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium (Nov 18) and Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium (Nov 21 and 22).

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