By Tris McCall/The Star-Ledger
Last year, Hear Music -- that's the label run by Starbucks -- released a tribute disc to Fleetwood Mac. There wasn't a single cover of a Christine McVie song on the collection. Maybe she gave the okay for that, and maybe she didn't want to negotiate with Hear; in any case, it felt like she'd been written of a story in which she's a central character.
Last night, the Mac held the stage at the Prudential Center for nearly two and a half hours. There was only a single Christine McVie song on the setlist -- "Don't Stop," which is mostly sung by Lindsey Buckingham. McVie wasn't present for the concert, which is nothing new: She hasn't been performing with the group in more than a decade. Mick Fleetwood mentioned in an interview that the door is always open, and he'd love it if she'd walk through. Some fans have high hopes for the upcoming London gig; in Newark on Wednesday, she didn't walk through.
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I love Lindsey Buckingham. He's something of an onstage megalomaniac, and he'll solo all night and day if you let him, but he's endearing, he's a magnetic frontman and a dexterous guitarist, and his restlessness and taste for experimentation was put to good use by the rest of the group. I love Stevie Nicks, too; her songs are smart, tough, and intoxicating, and get her going in an extended outro and she's likely to guide you to places that few singers ever visit. John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are the rare rhythm players with indelible personalities; push play on a Fleetwood Mac recording and within seconds, you'll know it's them.There are days on which I am convinced that there has never been a greater British-born rock group than Fleetwood Mac -- not the Beatles, not the Kinks, not Led Zeppelin, not the Attractions, nor any of the other boys', boys', boys' bands who never seemed to want to let the girls get a word in.
But that version of Fleetwood Mac is impossible without Christine McVie. She provided the serenity that made Buckingham's frenetic approach palatable, the earthiness that kept Nicks grounded, and the trancelike electric piano parts that added mystic resonance to the thump and throb of the rhythm section. Most of all, she added terrific songs to the repertoire: songs of romance and warmth, stories that added to that distinctive Fleetwood Mac feeling of men and women in conversation. She did not demonstrate Buckingham's imagination or Nicks' urgency. But no songwriter in a band of great songwriters understood the architecture of pop melody better than she did.
|Christine shown here in this recent |
photo supports Trevor's Law!
Years before Mick Fleetwood had the bright idea of enlisting Buckingham and Nicks, Christine McVie was
writing and singing great songs for Fleetwood Mac. She was writing good songs when she was still Christine Perfect, singer and pianist for British blues act Chicken Shack. After "Rumours" became a smash hit, pre-Buckingham-Nicks material dropped out of setlists, and because of that, an unfair percentage of Christine McVie's finest work has gotten lost in the Dark Ages of Mac history. She joined the group in 1971 (she'd drawn the children's book-like cover for the "Kiln House" set the year before) and immediately became a major contributor. "Believe Me," the leadoff cut from the 1973 album "Mystery to Me," is first-rate Fleetwood Mac and as delicious as anything on "Rumours." "Come a Little Bit Closer," from 1974's "Heroes Are Hard to Find," anticipated the major-league pop moves the band would make a year later. Once the band hit the big time, she kept right on penning hits: "You Make Loving Fun," "Think About Me," "Hold Me," "Say You Love Me." (Her album cuts were just as good.)
I'll have my review of this show in Saturday's paper, but I'll give you the short version here: Fleetwood Mac is always something great to behold, but I missed Christine McVie like a jeweled ring I'd dropped down the drain. I want her back, badly, and I'll bet her former bandmates do, too.
Note: Mick Fleetwood has recently been indicating to fans during the Meet and Greets on the Fleetwood Mac Tour that Christine will likely make an appearance on stage in London during The Mac's 3 sold out shows... When asked if she'll be doing all 3 he indicated likely just one, but wouldn't confirm which show.