Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fleetwood Mac Review - Patiot Ledger (Boston)

Fleetwood Mac unleashes their best


The "other" multi-platinum rock band from across the Atlantic in town Wednesday night didn’t play just a brief sample off their new record.

Fleetwood Mac doesn’t even have a new album yet, but the ``Unleashed'' tour that hit TD BankNorth Garden sure had plenty of music, as the quartet delivered two hours and 20 minutes of their best.

And if anyone has smart remarks about soft-rock, be advised Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham uncorked one of the most incendiary and lengthy guitar solos we’ve heard anywhere in the past decade.

The current version of Fleetwood Mac is a foursome because keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie retired in 2003, petrified of flying. The core band made up for McVie’s absence by adding Brett Tuggle on keyboards and Neil Hayward on guitar, along with a three-woman vocal trio. There were times when McVie’s vocals – especially in contrast or harmony with Stevie Nicks – were missed, and a few times her uniquely melodic keyboard sound also was missed. But time moves on, and the overall sound was excellent, aided by a superb mix.

While the concert got a minimum of publicity with our friends from Ireland invading Davis Square, the Garden was within a couple hundred seats of a sellout, and the 24-song show touched upon every Mac era.

One thing longtime fans will notice, as was true about their 2003 ``Say You Will'' album – the first without McVie – is that the four-person Mac tends to veer between Nicks songs and Buckingham songs.

But there didn’t seem to be any tension between the two famously star-crossed ex-lovers, and each seemed to support the other’s solo turns.

Nicks had the spotlight early with an easy-thumping "Dreams" and then a marvelously soaring "Gypsy". Buckingham’s really shone with the older tune "Go Insane", ripping off brain-curdling guitar lines. Right after that Nicks came gliding out for a "Rhiannon" that the rhythm section of drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie pushed into a pounding rock finish.

Nicks, 60, and Buckingham, 59, both looking and sounding superb, sang precise unison vocals on "Second Hand News". Buckingham did a segment with just acoustic guitar, ranging from a raucous "Big Love" to a delicately fingerpicked "Never Going Back Again" with Nicks.

Nicks’ eerie rendition of "Gold Dust Woman" led into a rowdy Buckingham take on the ancient (pre-Buckingham-Nicks) Mac tune "Oh Well". But it was the spacey ballad "So Afraid" that saw Buckingham rip into that 10-minute guitar solo, torrents of screaming notes that never lost the essential melody, and had the throng roaring at the end.

"Stand Back" and "Go Your Own Way" had a massive chorus of 20,000 to help the singers in a grand finale. The encores included a drum-drenched "World Turning", a rollicking "Don’t Stop" and finally a killer take on "Silver Springs", Nicks heart-wrenching vocal enhanced by more fine Buckingham guitar.

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