Fleetwood Mac Live at the Parken Stadium
Copenhagen October 8, 2009
Fleetwood Mac hardly need to be made aware of the fact, but hindsight can have a way of teasing you into your dotage. Thirty-three years after the group’s classic line-up released the 20 million-selling album Rumours, it has long become clear that — contrary to what arguably its most well-known song would have you think — going your own way is somewhat more easily said than done.
As Fleetwood Mac’s Unleashed tour finally reached Europe, it took Lindsey Buckingham all of three songs to address the “fairly convoluted emotional history” of the group who knew no equals when it came to alchemising their complicated hotel room arrangements into FM pop gold.
Buckingham and his ex-partner Stevie Nicks have since sporadically ventured into solo territory, but even in a characterless hangar on the outskirts of Copenhagen, it became clear that the on-stage dynamic between Buckingham and Nicks still exerts a fascinating hold.
With no new studio album to promote, a ruddy, red-shirted Buckingham suggested that band and audience were bound by no greater motive than to “have fun”. In the case of 61-year-old Nicks — who delivered star turns like Gypsy and Dreams with all the wistful gauziness you remembered from their recorded counterparts — that was easy enough to believe.
On a thrilling sprint through The Chain, drummer Mick Fleetwood showed a level of facial commitment that looked more like something out of the Jim Henson workshop than a rock show.
However, anyone who has seen Buckingham perform will know that fun, in the straightforward sense, isn’t a concept you would apply to the 60-year-old’s stage manner. Far from being a problem, however, it accounted for many of the evening’s most gripping spectacles. On the tribal paean to paranoia that was 1979’s Tusk, he was a picture of demonic intent. Left alone altogether to perform the group’s 1987 hit Big Love, Buckingham was revelatory. By the time he navigated the song from an intricate folk-picking whisper to a finger-shredding climax, all residual chatter from the back of the hall had dissipated.
Lest we had dared forget, of course, Fleetwood Mac’s success in the years predating Buckingham and Nicks was partly predicated on the brilliance of their troubled guitarist Peter Green.
Paying tribute to his predecessor, Buckingham turned his attention to Green’s own pièce de résistance Oh Well — while, behind him, Fleetwood and John McVie locked effortlessly into the song’s piledriving blues.
If Buckingham, on several occasions, looked close to stealing the show, it was to Nicks’s credit that she seemed happy to allow him. Even when occupying the spotlight for Sara, the female singer — dressed in figure-hugging black — left her microphone and ambled over to Buckingham. As the song finished, she hugged him and, sweetly, he simply allowed his head to rest on her shoulder. Time may have healed old wounds, but — in the case of certain songs — it made little difference to the pride Fleetwood Mac took in showing them off.
Ceremonially donning a top hat, Nicks assumed the position for Go Your Own Way. As ever, her performance was an object lesson in poise and control, while Buckingham’s was about the absence of those qualities. Minutes later, hindsight issued another tease — a valedictory Don’t Stop, complete with the exhortation, “Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.” Few noticed, less still cared.
Tour begins Glasgow SECC, October 22