Monday, April 20, 2009

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Live in Cleveland - "Is This What Rock Has come To?"
By Aaron Mendelsohn
Fleetwood Mac Live in Cleveland April 17, 2009

Throughout Fleetwood Mac’s Friday-night greatest-hits concert, one thing kept running through my head: Is this what rock has come to? With no album to promote, Fleetwood Mac is on the road for the first time in five years, with everyone in tow from the classic lineup except Christine McVie, and charging close to $200 per ticket while much of the country struggles. It partly felt like a slap in the face — even though tour was probably planned long before the economy tumbled — but the size of the crowd (the arena was about 40 percent empty) spoke volumes about the situation.

Had Fleetwood Mac and the promoters lowered the ticket price when sales were sluggish, the response and energy in the arena could have been momentous. Instead, the two-and-a-half-hour performance seemed like an aging band going through the motions during one more money grab.

That's not to say the music wasn’t provoking at times. Lindsey Buckingham is still a tremendous presence onstage, ripping through guitar solos with the vibrant energy needed to carry Stevie Nicks’s contrived effort. His primal, raw emotion during “Big Love,” alone onstage with just his acoustic guitar, was brilliant. As was his finger picking on “Oh Well,” the lone song played from the band’s Peter Green era.

Nicks, on the other hand, sounded sluggish on many songs, more concerned with her wardrobe changes (I think there were four) than charging the audience with her voice. When she wanted to, she could still deliver, hitting all the right notes on “The Chain” and beautifully singing an acoustic “Landslide” with Buckingham on guitar. But she seemed disengaged most of the time, which affected the entire performance.

Unfortunately, Mick Fleetwood’s big moment came late in the concert with a raucous drum solo in the middle of “World Turning.” Always the entertainer and looking a lot like St. Nick, Fleetwood’s solo managed to spark the show before the rest of the band returned for a lackluster “Don’t Stop.” —Aaron Mendelsohn

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