Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Fleetwood Mac keeps the classics freshMaterial might be familiar, but time hasn't hurt well-loved tunes
By Dave Tianen of the Journal Sentinel
June. 9, 2009

The classic Fleetwood Mac lineup has released exactly one album of new material in the last 21 years.

Monday night in concert at the Bradley Center, they totally ignored that one album, "Say You Will."

I seriously doubt anyone cared. The Big Mac is on the road to milk the catalog, and that is surely what the fans want. Of the 23 songs in the current set, 14 are from the two classic mid-'70s albums, "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours." Those are two of the classic pop rock albums of the '70s, or any other decade for that matter. It's a set list loaded with hits and classics, including "Rhiannon," "Dreams," "Gold Dust Woman," "The Chain," "Landslide," "Monday Morning," "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop."

When a huge band decides to take the oldies route and work the old hits, some questions are logical. First of all, do they seem bored or just going through the motions? The answer to that would seem to be an emphatic no. If Lindsey Buckingham was bored Monday night, it was the most frenetic display of tedium I have ever seen in my life. There is also a slight freshening effect because the old Christine McVie hits have now been parceled out between Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

Second, has the passage of time and the weight of the years compromised their ability to deliver the goods? That's a logical question. Buckingham will turn 60 on Oct. 3, and he's the youngest person in the band. Again, Buckingham is a dynamo physically. He may be the only 59-year-old guitarist on the planet who bounces when he plays.

If Buckingham is the engine and musical master behind Fleetwood Mac, Nicks was always the visual and theatrical center. That still holds true in slightly muted form. Although she still dresses in shawls and loves to strike theatrical poses on stage, Nicks isn't quite the wood sprite sex kitten of yore. We got exactly one of the old spinning moves with the arms outspread. At 60, Nicks is a little less Tinker Bell, a little more the well-preserved Witch of Eastwick.

One of the smart things they're doing on this tour, since there aren't any new songs: They're giving us something new about the old songs. In introducing "Gypsy," Nicks reminisced about the first band she shared with Buckingham and their days of opening for Santana and Janis Joplin in San Francisco. Buckingham spoke at some length about how "Big Love" became the template for the solo songs he wrote later in his career. This is a band with history, and I think it's wise to share it with the audience.

And as Buckingham acknowledged, they also have a "complex" emotional history. Those old storms seem to have quieted with the years, and at least on stage Buckingham and Nicks seemed to have reached a state of genuine warmth and affection.

One other thing came through. I'm not sure Buckingham has ever quite gotten the credit he deserves as a guitarist. For several tunes, in the second half of the set, it was just Buckingham playing behind his own voice and Nicks, and the sound never seemed withered or small.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this show. The setlist was 75% predictable yet delivered with great energy - and we can only attribute that to Lindsey's leadership/musical direction to keep the songs fresh over the years. He obviously loves doing this and understands the importance of not "mailing it in".

Here's what stands out in my memory from last night's Milwaukee show:
* The SOUND. Crystal Clear. I've been watching shows at the Bradley Center for 20 years now and have never heard a show sound good. I think it's because of the volume control. Bands tend to blast the systems and it's overkill. From first note to last, the sound was on.
* The setlist was amazing. Sad they missed tracks like Bleed to Love Her but a few gems were pulled out. STORMS. Nuff said.

Even they alluded to "new material down the road", I have a feeling this may be the last time we'll see the Mac in this capacity. Being in their early 60's (except for Lindsey - the baby), writing/producing/releasing a new CD with a subsequent tour would probably put Stevie, Mick and John out on tour around the age of 65. Although I'd welcome it, I don't know if I see it happening.

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