Can Fleetwood Mac still thrill without the chemical and emotional charges of old? Rating: * *
SECC - Glasgow
By Matthew Magee
Fleetwood Mac are almost as famous for the bed-hopping, powder-sniffing emotional trauma they have inflicted on each other over the years as they are for their era-defining monster hits. But with their heydays now 20 and 30 years behind them, can the music still thrill without the chemical and emotional charges of old?
In their most famous incarnation, featuring Lyndsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac were million-selling megastars of soft rock in the 1970s and masters of airy synth anthems in the 1980s.
Nicks, Buckingham and rhythm section stalwarts Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are back on the road touting a greatest hits tour with no distracting new album to promote. “Yet,” said Buckingham, teasing. The expected roar of anticipation petered out almost before it had begun.
The crowd in Glasgow was a muted mirror of the band themselves, reflecting back what they were given. In the many long, baggy, drawn-out echoes of songs that peppered a flabby set they were silent in their thousands, still and mooning at the stage, clapping politely between numbers. But on the few occasions when the band came to life the crowd went off like firecrackers.
Buckingham’s maudlin posturing and hammy vocal theatrics had many on their feet and cheering, while the sudden liveliness of Tusk or the let-rip relief of the bluesy Oh Well brought roars of delight. The likes of Don’t Stop, The Chain and Go Your Own Way were full of real energy.
But for every one of those tracks there was a Sara or a Landslide, in which a listless and heavy-lidded Nicks struggled to push much range or power from her voice. Or an I’m So Afraid, with a bland and seemingly never-ending guitar solo.
The musical star of the night was Fleetwood, whose drumming lent every song dynamics, energy and, in Tusk and the last section of World Turning, some unexpected groove. He looked as if he was having a riot throughout.
It’s a shame his enthusiasm wasn’t more infectious – this canny dinosaur of a band had the good sense and good grace to snap into focus for arresting performances of the landmark songs, but its brio was too often short-lived.