Friday, April 24, 2009

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Live in Sunrise Florida

Fleetwood Mac's chemistry still on display in concert


Fleetwood Mac's always done dysfunction well.

Rumours, the group's greatest hit, was a testament to making art out of madness, and Thursday, before about 10,000 fans at Sunrise's BankAtlantic Center, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, along with ex-lover Stevie Nicks and the terrific core rhythm section namesakes of the band, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, paid homage to what Buckingham called ``a complex and convoluted emotional history.''

But for this Unleashed Tour, devoted to the band's greatest hits, Fleetwood Mac, for only the second major road trip sans their old ray of light Christine McVie, ''just wanted to go out and have fun,'' Buckingham said.

''Fun'' in Fleetwood Mac lingo, of course, was primarily the domain of Christine McVie's sunny pop tunes (she's the one, after all, who wrote You Make Lovin' Fun). For Buckingham and Nicks, ''fun'' is in the airing of their romantic disappointments in songs that champion all the ways in which lovin' isn't much fun at all.

''If you don't love me now, you will never love me again,'' spit the duo on the set's second song, The Chain, and it was hard not to observe Buckingham's glare at Nicks, who harmonized on the other side of the stage.

''You'll never get away from the sound of the woman who loved you,'' retorted Nicks in the show closer, Silver Springs, more than two hours later.

For 140 minutes and 23 songs, Buckingham and Nicks traded hits -- musical ones, natch -- to entice fans who are still hooked on the strikingly scored soap opera aspect of this band.

For Sara, a 1979 hit rarely performed live, Nicks sauntered over to Buckingham's mike from her side of the stage and the two entangled, heads resting against each other's shoulders. ''There's a heartbeat, and it never really died,'' Nicks whispered in Sara's delicate coda. Needless to say, the crowd delighted. Storms, a 1979 beauty never performed live until Unleashed, was even better as Nicks, 60 and radiant, introduced the album track as a song about ''stormy'' situations and people. Few do justice to the big time world heartbreak of drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll so well.

All of this would be trite melodrama if the band had chosen to coast on its enviable catalog. Buckingham, 59, in particular, had always bristled at taking the easy way out by repeating the success of Rumours, for instance. But for this tour, heavy on favorites from mid- to late-70s classics Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tusk -- nothing newer than 1987's Big Love featured and the foursome dug back into its '60s Peter Green blues period for a blistering Oh Well -- Buckingham and his musical partners proved amenable to celebrating the band's legacy. The most pleasant surprise, and a concert highlight, was Buckingham returning his solo single, Go Insane, to its original '80s synth-pop arrangement.

But any concerns that potentially shop-worn songs like Don't Stop, a Rumours hit burnished further into pop culture by a former United States president's fondness for classic rock, or Go Your Own Way or Gypsy might feel perfunctory evaporated as the band's stellar musicianship revitalized the material.

Nicks, introduced by drummer Fleetwood as ''the First Lady of Fleetwood Mac,'' was in strong voice, hitting the intense vamping ending of Gold Dust Woman and her sassy Stand Back with surprising ease and resonance. Buckingham's inventive electric guitar work is peerless as anyone who witnessed previous tours, The Dance (1997) and Say You Will (2003), can attest. But his voice, which hadn't kept pace, was in the best, most pliable shape it has been in since he first left the band in 1987.

Fleetwood Mac still matters because the links that kept this particular chain together -- the interpersonal chemistry, the passionate songwriting that has endured for 42 years, the desire for growth and the joy in the playing -- remains intact.

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