Wednesday, June 24, 2009

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Live in Calgary 2009

Fleetwood Mac in fine form
Band hints at new album coming soon

They told listeners not to look back in their 1977 hit, Don't Stop.

But last night, nothing stopped Fleetwood Mac from mining their extensive catalogue for the golden tracks that made them one of the biggest bands in the world.

Five years after they last graced the Saddledome stage, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood returned amidst the enthusiastic cheers of almost 12,000 adoring fans.

The show was rescheduled from last month, when the original concert was cancelled only hours before the band was set to hit the stage.

Not surprisingly, the near-sold-out audience was made up largely of the middle-aged set, but there was also a number of young hipsters who were equally excited to see Fleetwood Mac, despite being born about a decade after the band's chart-topping glory days.

Drummer Fleetwood was first to take the stage followed by bassist McVie.

And after a lengthy pause, singer Nicks and guitarist Buckingham walked hand-in-hand to the centre of the stage, warmly acknowledging the crowd before launching into the boogie-rock number, Monday Morning.

It was the first of more than 20 songs.

Buckingham's voice was raspy at first, but warmed up nicely as the evening progressed.

Nicks, on the other hand, was singing an octave or two lower than we're used to, but was propped up by two backing singers.

Buckingham and Nicks took turns introducing each tune with a story about how the song was written or gave insight into the band's history.

During the 1970s, the British-American quintet (fifth member Christine McVie left the band in 1998) was entangled in affairs, break-ups and drug abuse.

"We have a complex and convoluted emotional history," Buckingham explained.

That's putting it mildly.

But he said even though it hasn't been an easy ride, it's worked out in the long run.

He also hinted at a possible new album soon.

Buckingham probably knew the fans were there to hear the hits and reassured them that Fleetwood Mac were there to play them.

From McVie's exciting bass line breakdown in The Chain and Nicks' nasal drawl in Gold Dust Woman to the epic chorus of Rhiannon, the crowd had much to be happy about.

A lovely moment early in the show came courtesy of Nicks, who was clad in her trademark hippy goth wear, complete with sparkly scarves hanging off her microphone.

She told the crowd the tale of how she met her former lover Buckingham in San Francisco and how the song Gypsy was written as a way to remember her happiest times while the band was going through turmoil.

The performance of the song itself was a bit flat as were many of Nicks' numbers, but it didn't seem to matter to the devoted Stevie-ites singing along to every word.

However, Nicks' voice also seemed to improve as the show went on and by the time she got to the gorgeous ballad Landslide, she was sounding like the Stevie of old.

It was all about the music last night and therefore the band kept the stage setup simple. There were a few nifty lighting effects, but for the most part the stage was bare save for two blocks that changed colour every so often.

Buckingham was by far the most energetic of the group.

He rocked out like no time had passed and was constantly making eye contact with the front rows and giving out high fives.

He even pulled out his modest 1984 solo hit, Go Insane, which sounded fantastic. It's a very '80s song, but last night it sounded modern with a theatrical twist.

Fleetwood Mac may have been through hell to get where they are today. But their legion of Calgary fans are glad they made the journey.


Fleetwood Mac June 23, 2009
Venue: Pengrowth Saddledome
Attendance: 12,000
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5

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