Thursday, May 16, 2013

REVIEW | PHOTOS: Fleetwood Mac Live in Edmonton

Fleetwood Mac ageless wonders
By Mike Ross
Edmonton Sun
Photos by Amber Bracken
May 15, 2013

Some people are griping that Fleetwood Mac touring without a major new album – or Christine McVie – is just a “cash grab.”

So what of it? Gotta make a living somehow, to maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. All those scarves can’t be cheap. No one makes money selling records anymore, do they? But the one thing you can’t download is a live concert (never mind the canned horns in Tusk).

The plus side of the cash grab for Mac fans is that the remaining fantastic four Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks are solid. They should be. Since the band broke up for the first time, they’ve been touring on and off as long as they ever did back in the day, except maybe the epic Rumours tour. They’re more stable now, too, by the sounds of it. They’re all great musicians, and so the band has become nice and tight. Sure, Wednesday night at Rexall Place was just another gig in a long string not likely to end soon, but it was still special for that reason – because they’re working it, just like all the other classic rock bands out there.

Turns out Mac did release a new EP recently, very quietly, without any fuss. They pulled a new one tune at the show amongst the classics some 15,000 fans turned up to hear: Sad Angel, a brisk rocking groove, and somewhat downbeat message that may or may not be about the end of the world: “Hello, hello, sad angel, have you come to fight the war?” goes the line. Might have to let that one grow on you.

But admit it: Seems fans would rather have Christine McVie back than hear new Fleetwood Mac tunes. Most the thrills were reserved for the aforementioned classics: Like a double shot of Second Hand News and The Chain to open the show, showing the vocal talents of Buckingham and Nicks, respectively, their voices still blending wonderfully. Dreams – probably the band’s biggest commercial hit - was knocked off early, one of several favourites that showed the pair in fine form. The exes still seem to have a spark between them, some chemistry. During The Chain, Buckingham turned to his longtime musical and one-time sexual partner and put a little extra oomph into the line, “If you don’t love me now, you never will again!” That actually doesn’t make any sense when you think about it.

There are quibbles. At times it came off like the Lindsey Buckingham Show. Wasn’t it always, though? The guy remains a serious scary monster on the guitar, showing off great guns on a solo version of Looking Out for Love – singing while playing an impossibly fast riff at the same time. Nicks made it an acoustic duo next with the lovely Landslide, giving of her own extra oomph to the line, “I’m getting older, too.”

It was cool to see the band playing with the arrangements of songs they must’ve played 10,000 times. Save Me, coming late in the show, was elongated into a psychedelic blues jam and showcased one of Nicks’ best performances. Tusk, one of Mac’s weirdest and most wonderful songs, started with a laid-back, almost ambient vibe before breaking into the jungle groove we all know, and did I mention the canned horns? Maybe it was a really, really good synth patch. There were a number of backing musicians and singers toiling in the shadows to fill in the spaces. The best moments were the most stripped down, however. Back in the spotlight not for the first or last time, Buckingham spindled and mutilated the melody to Never Going Back Again, making for a simple yet passionate performance that had a lot more soul than if it had been faithful to the studio version. He cranked out more blistering guitar solos later on, proving he’s really the guy driving this band – no offence to the competent and sturdy drumming of Mick Fleetwood, a heavy hitter if there ever was one.

The notion that the parts are greater than the sum in this case were put to rest when the band kicked it up a few notches for the home stretch to end two hours of living, breathing classic rock nostalgia.  Go Your Own Way was magic. It’s nice to see the old-timers up there working so hard.

4 SUNS out of 5

Review: Fleetwood Mac brings landslide of hits to Rexall
Edmonton Journal
By Sandra Sperounes

EDMONTON - Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies about Fleetwood Mac’s sold-out show at Edmonton’s soon-to-be-secondary hockey arena.

The Edmonton Sun May 16, 2013
OK ... how ’bout the foursome’s rendition of Little Lies felt like the sonic equivalent of hugging a pack of angels?

It didn’t, of course, because Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie didn’t play the tune during Wednesday night’s concert. (Christine McVie sings lead on the 1987 hit — and she no longer
tours with the band, preferring to hang out at home in England.)

Truth be told, Little Lies aren’t necessary — in their set list or about Fleetwood Mac’s show. The rockers, fronted by ex-lovers and hand-holders Buckingham and Nicks, took fans on an enchanting stroll through the ’70s and ’80s — filled with chimes, visuals of suns, stars and exploding glitter, and songs about love, poets, and gypsies.

The foursome, with at least four backup musicians, started their 2-1/2-hour set with a triple whammy of tunes from one of the biggest albums of the ’70s, Rumours — Second Hand News, The Chain and Dreams. These were soon followed by four songs from Fleetwood Mac’s difficult followup album, Tusk, which Buckingham described as their attempt to subvert the axiom of “If it works, run it into ground and move on” — using more words than he usually does in one of Saturday Night Live’s ongoing gags.

The Edmonton Journal May 16, 2013
Not That Funny felt like a reworked Sex Pistols tune backed by a piano. The title track lurched like a drunk and giddy parade of elephants, complete with invisible horns. (You couldn’t see them, but they sounded real — so perhaps their players were hidden behind a wall of speakers, much like the band’s second drummer.) Then came two of Nicks’s bewitching numbers, Sisters of the Moon and Sara, which she sang as she gently swayed, playing with the layers of her black skirt or the ribbons dangling from her microphone stand.

Buckingham and his bandmates managed to squeeze in two new songs, Sad Angel and Without You, from Fleetwood Mac’s four-song EP, Extended Play, released with little fanfare on iTunes at the end of April. (And, most likely, the precursor to more material, according to the tanned frontman.)

Sad Angel was one of the night’s fastest and most straightforward rock tunes, while Without You, a lost song from the ’70s, featured Nicks and Buckingham singing about their first experiences in Los Angeles. Neither are examples of their best work as tunesmiths, but at least they didn’t sound out of place in the set list.

While Nicks can’t quite hit the high and sighing notes, her remaining range still sounds powerful, deftly cutting through the cacophony of her bandmates. If she sounded a wee bit dodgy on Dreams, she more than made up for it on Landslide, as Buckingham stood at her side, playing acoustic guitar. Cue the flood of tears, goosebumps, Bic lighters and a spontaneous choir of baby-boomers, their not-so-young children and a few grandkids.

Buckingham was the real star of the night. His voice is still supple — whooping on Tusk, spitting with punk rage on Not That Funny, screeching on Big Love — and he plays guitar like no one else. His fingers rippled like a waterfall over the strings of his acoustic guitar as he played a more delicate version of Big Love, Landslide and Never Going Back Again. So effortless, so understated, so humble.

May Fleetwood Mac come back ... again and again. Next time, they’ll need to bring a unicorn (or winged horse) — and Christine.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great show, well above my expectations. Love to see them back again...

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