Thursday, June 18, 2009

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Live in Manchester, NH

A great evening with Fleetwood Mac
Review by: Linda in Maine

The origins of Fleetwood Mac lie way back in 1967. There's a lot of water under the bridge since then, with dizzying personnel changes, commercial success in the 70s and 80s, and more than their share of relationship turmoil. Mick Fleetwood pulled the band together five years ago for a reunion tour, and now they are touring again. I saw their "Unleashed" show on June 16 at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH.

When you lay your money down for a rock group with more than forty years of history, what can you reasonably expect? For one thing, Fleetwood Mac have no new album ("YET!" chortled Lindsey Buckingham) so this 2009 "Unleashed" tour focuses on their hits. Buckingham and the still-gorgeous Stevie Nicks may not have quite the vocal ranges they once had but oh my goodness, this band can play some great music. Though many fans believe that a tour without Christine McVie is poor value, the audience got more than two hours of solid entertainment. Buckingham and Nicks took the stage with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, along with a small but talented support team.

The internet is full of news flashes announcing the concert set lists, all slightly different, so it's clear that the band mixes it up a little. The early numbers were familiar and rousing; I could have gone home happy after "Tusk" but that would have been a big mistake because the middle part of the show was an amazing acoustic set by Buckingham--that man can PLAY!  He did some solo work ("Big Love") and Nicks joined for vocals on some real crowd pleasers like "Landslide."

We were treated to "Sara," "Rhiannon," "Stand Back," "Second Hand News," "Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop..." When Stevie Nicks sang "Gypsy," surely we all felt the tug of sweet sentiment, thinking of the gypsies that WE once were. I expected the sentimental pieces but was startled by how well the band ROCKED the arena.

The concert venue--Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH--always has fantastic camera work for the big screens, but it would have been a mistake to ignore the stage itself. The group went with an informal garage band set design: here a bank of equipment with flashing lights, there a rampart of amps, a cluster of keyboards, roadies darting around in the shadows, plenty of real estate between Nicks and Buckingham—except when they rather cautiously moved together for an embrace. And dominating the stage, the great shining pile of Mick Fleetwood's drum kit, the man himself sitting on the throne, backed by a glorious hammered Zildjian, looking like a slightly manic Turkish St Nick, stage lights flashing off the equipment and his bald pate. When he chuckled and twinkled his eyes, I wanted to run onto the stage with my Christmas list: after all, the year's half over and I've been good...

Just like the band did, I've saved the best for last. Called back for an encore, they astonished the audience with a riveting version of "World Turning," including a prolonged drum and vocals riff by Mick Fleetwood that had us on our feet screaming the responses back at him.

It was a fine night. Bands like Fleetwood Mac have nothing left to prove. They've been through the fire and survived, and that frees them to have fun. Have fun they did, and so did we. A success, in my books.

My fervent thanks go to WHOM 94.9 FM for supplying the tickets, and to my husband who won them because I asked him to.

Linda Bulger, 2009

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