Concert review: Fleetwood Mac at the United CenterSAD ANGEL
Greg Kot - Music critic
Greg Kot - Music critic
It was billed as a Fleetwood Mac concert Saturday at the United Center, but it was really more about the California duo that Mick Fleetwood invited to join the band in 1974, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
Lindsey and Stevie were the Jay-Z and Beyonce of the ‘70s. They were an under-achieving folk-rock duo transformed into a power couple with Fleetwood Mac, a core ingredient in three multimillion-selling albums that provided 15 of the 23 songs performed Saturday: “Fleetwood Mac” (1975), “Rumours” (1977) and “Tusk” (1979).
The concert turned into an extended dialogue between the two, with the rest of Mac’s membership – both current and past – reduced to ancillary roles. Buckingham and Nicks were more than just bandmates, of course, but lovers who broke up just as Fleetwood Mac broke big. That personal travail provided a subtext for countless songs, and the soap opera has continued to play out over the decades. Buckingham played hide-and-seek with the band while conducting a solo career, and he and Nicks appeared uneasy allies at best on recent tours. On Saturday, they were on cozier terms, and the songs and presentation underlined it.
Fleetwood Mac has a rich history that reaches back to swinging London during the late ‘60s. The band was named after its rhythm section, which is still intact. Though he looks more than ever like he could be Fagin’s goofball sidekick in “Oliver Twist,” Mick Fleetwood remains an inventive drummer, steeped in blues but capable of coloring arrangements with orchestral flair. Hey, the man’s got a gong – and wind chimes! – and he knows how to use them. Band co-founder John McVie provided the bass breakdown in “The Chain,” a moment so iconic that it got an ovation from the capacity crowd. But even though Fleetwood got a drum solo, he and McVie were basically just part of the backing band on this night.
Another crucial player in the “Rumours” run written out of the script was Christine McVie, the U.K. keyboardist whose sultry hits were every bit as resonant as those of Nicks and Buckingham. But McVie retired in 1998, and her songs have been retired from the set list, with one exception – “Don’t Stop.”
|Above 5 Photos by Live Nation Illinois|
It was that song that urged, “Don’t you look back, yesterday’s gone” – solid advice for most rock bands trying to remain relevant. Though the set was loaded with yesterday’s songs, Fleetwood Mac does have its own anti-nostalgia machine. Buckingham still plays like a guy looking for his first break. Only his gray hair betrayed any signs of aging. His voice remains pliable and strong, if slightly deranged in its most fevered moments. As a guitarist, he’s a finger-picker who can sound like he’s got four hands going at once, playing lead and rhythm lines simultaneously while mixing a grab-bag of influences – everything from bluegrass to hard rock. He described “Big Love” as a “meditation” on change, but this was more like an exorcism. He attacked his guitar as much as plucked it, a ferocious solo performance that was easily the night’s highlight.
Nicks took longer to warm to the occasion. Her range has narrowed and her register has lowered, and attempts to stretch out and talk-sing through “Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman” and “Sara” turned these warhorses sludgy and slack. But when Fleetwood, McVie and several backing musicians and singers exited, Nicks had the stage to herself with Buckingham, and the intimacy and space in the arrangements suited her. “Landslide” finished with the duo clasping hands, and they resurrected “Without You,” a song from their pre-Mac days that allowed their voices to blend like the California-pop innocents they once were.
Buckingham responded to Nicks’ tune with one he wrote a decade ago about the couple, “Say Goodbye.” The guitarist even broke out the “c” word – “closure” – in describing his relationship with Nicks. Once again, the stage was empty except for the two singers as their public therapy session dissolved into darkness. Then they exited holding hands.
Below photos by Cindy (csimko75) - View Gallery
Below Photos by Erin Brown - View Gallery
(Will be released on-line as part of Fleetwood Mac's new EP. Lindsey says in the video, it's a digital release first, then possibly a physical piece later)
Sludgy and slack? Hardly. She was amazing tonight! She was controlled, deliberate and passionate.ReplyDelete
We all know her range has narrowed and we accept that or we stay home and listen to past recordings.
I think she handles the change in her voice better than most. I've seen Heart, Benarar, Blondie, Tina Turner-- all well past their commercial peak, and unlike Stevie, they were still trying to sing like they did 20-30 years ago. It wasn't pretty. I love them all but I walked away sad and disappointed. Had they lowered their register and narrowed their range, it would have been much more enjoyable. Most of Stevie's rough nights were during her commercial peak, when he voice could be achingly beautiful or just aching. It was wild and untamed--capable of incredible beauty or cringe inducing missteps. Now, while not the exciting roller coaster of the past, her performances are assured and graceful and powerful.
jay-z & beyounce well how could you compare them to them to stevie an d lindsey. stevie never ever has lipyic any lyrics and get half dressed on stage to win them over and jay-z will never come close to lindsey finger picking guitar playing. No comparson sorry.ReplyDelete
The fact they're reunited at all is amazing in it's own right. Enjoy it for what it is. Four fabulously talented musicians in the twilight of their careers, and life.ReplyDelete
Stevie's best days are behind her, but she is more of a professional now than she ever was. I'll take a "sludgy, and slack" Stevie over most any of today's singers. Buckingham is still amazing. John, and Mick are still as good as ever. Not sure how anyone can even remotely discredit these performances.
The only negative is Christine is not along for the ride. Her beautiful voice is missed.
I completely agree and second what Mike said. Lindsey is phenomenal and I love how the Chicago Tribune used the phrase that he plays like he's hungry and just starting out. Stevie is much more professional and yes, I think at her best was the Bella Donna period; Tusk era. They are all wonderful musicians and give it a thousand percent. I wish too Chris was along for this ride, which I fear is their last tour.ReplyDelete
Greg Kot is a great writer and I loved his book on Wilco.ReplyDelete
This is a fair assessment of the show/band.
Sludgy and slack? Maybe so, but I think Stevie's lower register is still gorgeous.
It's only right that you should play the way you feel it, Stevie.ReplyDelete
After struggling through your post about Jay-Z and Beyonce, I have to wonder why you even made it at all. You say there is no comparison, yet you try to make it. It's ludicrous to try and stack musicians of different musical genres up against one another. Believe me, I'm NO fan of Jay-Z or Beyonce and would rather listen to the alley cats mating outside my apartment window than to either of them so I am not defending them in any way. However, to compare them to Stevie and Lindsey is like trying to compare Megadeath to Mozart simply because they are musicians. It's moot from the get-go.
And I do beg to differ with you, anonymous on one point: Stevie HAS lip synced lyrics in the past. In 1990, Fleetwood Mac appeared on Japanese television and she lip synced a performance of "Freedom". Minor sticking point, I know, but it is incorrect to say she has never done it.
I agree with Mike that the band is in the twilight of their career here and Stevie's best days are very clearly behind her. They have been behind her for a long time now.
I also agree that it is a shame Christine is not with the band anymore because she brought so much to Fleetwood Mac. She brought elegance, charm, a truly beautiful voice that was a pleasure to hear and an amazing songwriting talent. In so many ways, Christine was the real stand-out star of Fleetwood Mac and without her, the band is broken.
Watch Landslide with the volume muted. Lindsey looks like he's just going through the motions, and at one point he looks at the ceiling, bored out of his mind. I loved this band for more years than I can count, but the passion and tensions are gone. I'm just not feeling it anymore.ReplyDelete
"Watch Landslide with the volume muted" Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?ReplyDelete
In looking at their albums, Christine , Mick,and John were always the core of the band. Chris appeared on all their albums (uncredited) until a "full" member in 1970. So when Lindsey quit in 1987,I saw them live in 1988, I decided then I didn't care who they got as long as the core element remained intact.The Time album is way overlooked and features Chris shining as always. So, when I saw them in 2004 at what is now the Comcast center in M.A. I thought "well it's still FM", enter 2013, a new tour and it's evident that without Christine they are not FM. Ten years with no album, and they manage to save (or try) with a four song EP! For some reason it took me awhile but, without Christine it's not the core Mac.ReplyDelete
They do seem uneven and almost lost without her. Christine was the stabilizing one.
Lets hope the band is smart enough to ask her to record on their next full CD, I hope she says OK!
"Watch Landslide with the volume muted" Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
Umm, no. The poster above you was trying to make a point. The point is that the band and the members are going through the motions nowadays instead of putting the real passion and fire they used to have for their music into it. You can see that much more clearly when you aren't distracted by Stevie's singing. Without that, you can see that everything the poster above you said is 100% correct. Lindsey is just doing his job at this point. He's selling, you're buying and he's waiting to move on to the next stall at the market.
Here's the thing, people who don't like this incarnation of the band really need to just shut the f*** up!!! Realize you are not going to change peoples minds who do like them.This is after all called nickslive.blogspot.com not something like withoutchristine.theband.sucks.com or ihatethenew.fifteenyearoldmac.com.We get it you don't like what they do anymore, however there is a whole bunch of people that disagree with you(and all you trolls know who you are).Look we all know it would be an even better show with Christine duh (captain obvious), but in my opinion and apparently a lot of others that count (you know crazy people that dare go to such a crappy show) it must still be good enough to go through the trouble of going!!! I would love it if Christine would come back, but all by her choice she will not. So the band has for the past 15 years (nothing new) decided it would continue.No one should hold that against them, even if you don't like the music they are doing.If you don't like it just continue to be in the pissy-pants minority, do us all a favor and don't attend!!!Because from the sounds of it you wouldn't make lovin fun lol. And btw all of this commentary is not to diminish Christine's contribution to the band.That legacy will always remain intact no matter what, as will the other four remaining musicians' legacy to the band.It is not like they are trying to replace her, because they all know they never could. Especially to two upfront they know more than anyone that could never happen.Still this is not to say they can't go on because they can, and they seem to be doing it rather successfully!!!So again if you don't like it (hate it for ya) because a lot of us do!!!ReplyDelete