Friday, June 12, 2009

REVIEW: For Fleetwood Mac, it was a night of fun at the Garden

Band's 'Unleashed' Tour stops at Atlantic City Saturday


"Every time we come together it's different," Fleetwood Mac guitarist and lead singer Lindsey Buckingham told the audience at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. "This time, we said, ‘Let's just go out there and have fun!' We're going to play songs we all love a lot."

The show was one stop on the band's "Unleashed" tour, which will hit Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday. Since the band has no new album to promote, unlike 2003-2004's "Say You Will" tour, the nearly-three-hour long concert was able to include virtually all of Fleetwood Mac's most popular songs, including "The Chain," "Say That You Love Me" and "Tusk."

The set also included some lesser-known songs, such as "Storms," which lead-singer Stevie Nicks told the audience the band had never performed at a concert before.

Nicks seemed to be in an especially talkative mood, sharing personal anecdotes with the audience before launching into several of the band's songs.

She admitted that she teared up earlier in the day when she brought a fifth-grade choir up on stage to sing "Landslide" before her. Nicks said she had cried similarly after hearing how beautifully Buckingham played the guitar portion of the song for the first time after she had written it.

The audience seemed similarly moved as they sang along with the lyrics, creating a kind of duet.

Nicks also recounted the story of being asked to join Buckingham's band nearly two years after the pair had met briefly in a California high school when she was a senior and he was a junior.

"They said, ‘Want to be in the band?' - which of course, I didn't know existed - and I said, ‘Sure ... what type of music is it?' and they told me it was rock and roll, so I said, ‘I can do it!'"

The song "Gypsy" was written about her early years playing with him and later with Fleetwood Mac, which the couple joined in 1975, as the band gained popularity and opened for many big names.

Most fans know that during these years Nick and Buckingham dated, and the turmoil of their eventual break-up inspired many of the songs on their most popular album, 1977's Rumours. At the time, Rumours was the best-selling album in history, with 17 million copies sold.

Buckingham acknowledged the band's previous turbulence, saying, "We've had a fairly complex, convoluted, emotional history ... But in the long run, it's actually worked out in our favor."

Now, about 40 years later, while songs such as "Go Your Own Way" remain just as powerful, the wounds between the two seem to have healed. Throughout the show, he and Nicks repeatedly turned to face each other as they sang, at one point even embracing in front of the crowd.

Drummer Mick Fleetwood seemed similarly excited to be back on stage, smiling manically and at one point, leading the enthusiastic crowd in a round of back and forth gibberish.

Bassist John McVie, however, who was introduced by Fleetwood as the band's "backbone," seemed content to remain outside of the spotlight while playing the songs' catchy basslines.

Missing from the band's long-time line-up was keyboardist Christine McVie, John's ex-wife, who decided to quit touring with the band in the late 1990s. Although rumors swirled that she might be replaced on this tour with singer Sheryl Crow, her vocals were instead sung by Nicks and her keyboard duties were taken up by a man with an ironically similar shag haircut.

But watching Nicks' bewitching performance, one could barely sense the loss of the band's second woman. Nicks floated and fluttered onstage, beating her tambourine and moving her hands as though she were the witch in her song "Rhiannon" casting spells on the audience.

Perhaps one of the most spellbinding moments of the performance, however, took place during a different song. With the light shining down on her as she turned her back to the audience to show her long, flowing golden hair and shawl, Nicks became the physical embodiment of the "Gold Dust Woman" as she sang.

In fact the band's best performances of the night were those that included Nicks singing her own poetic lyrics, while Buckingham accompanied her superbly on his guitar and Fleetwood and McVie creating a stirring backbeat.

Fleetwood Mac seemed so enthralled by the audience that after playing a three-song encore that included Bill Clinton's one-time campaign song, "Don't Stop," the band returned for a second encore to sing a beautiful rendition of "Silver Spring."

The song seemed a fitting way to close out the show, with Nicks belting out, "You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you."

How lucky we are for that.

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