Thursday, June 06, 2013

REVIEWS | PHOTOS: Fleetwood Mac Live in Houston

JUNE 5, 2013

Fleetwood Mac brings music, memories to Houston
by Joey Guerra

Photo by Brian Townley
Somewhere amid the first few songs of Fleetwood Mac’s more than two-hour set Wednesday at Toyota Center, Lindsey Buckingham explained what he called an “axiom” of the music business.

“If it works, run it into the ground and move on,” he said

It was his way of saying that the Mac was most certainly not doing that and a proper introduction to “Sad Angel,” a feisty song from a new EP released in April.

But really, what fans came for were the classics, the unspoken stories, the still-potent chemistry between Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. That’s not running anything into the ground. It’s simply honoring the work.

“Every time we come back together, it’s different,” Buckingham said. “You’d think after this long there would be nothing left to discover. It appears that there are still quite a few chapters left in the book of Fleetwood Mac.”

Indeed, there’s still something exciting about all of these songs. A trio from 1977′s “Rumours” album — “Second Hand News, “The Chain,” “Dreams” — set a celebratory, sensual tone. People crowded around the lip of the stage and stayed there, dancing and singing to every chorus, guitar lick and drum solo. ”Rhiannon” was the final push to get the lower and upper levels out of their seats.

Photo by Alexa
Nicks flowed in her signature scarves and sparkle and told the crowd she’d lived in Texas for five years. (El
Paso, to be exact, when she was a girl.) Buckingham was chatty and excitable, stomping his feet and bending his knees like a kid after hammering into any number of songs.

There was an extended, excellent tribute to the band’s originally misunderstood “Tusk” album that included “Not That Funny,” the thundering title track and Nicks warbling on “Sisters of the Moon.” Much has been made about the change in her vocals, the lowering of keys, the weather of age. But she sounded nothing less than sweet and sincere throughout the evening.

And when she glided over to Buckingham during a heartfelt “Sara,” took his mic for the final line and gave him a hug, there was some bit of unspoken magic between them.

Buckingham was reliably excellent on “Big Love;” “Landslide” is still a deceptively sweet tearjerker; and Nicks did the spin during “Gypsy.” (You know the one.) “Without You,” a lost song from the Buckingham Nicks era, was another highlight. And Nicks was bathed in yellow light and one of many shawls during “Gold Dust Woman.”

“I’m So Afraid” rustled several people into the aisles and up the stairs for a break, but they missed Buckingham’s sensational guitar work. They were back at full focus during Nicks solo tune “Stand Back,” even if it felt a bit loud and messy.

The blaring, triumphant “Go Your Own Way” set the band up for a series of encores that included “World Turning,” a Fleetwood drum solo, “Don’t Stop,” “Silver Springs” and, appropriately enough, “Say Goodbye.” (Some folks skipped out on the final two songs, thinking the show was done.)

“You guys really are the dreamcatchers. You listen to them (songs) as if you’re listening to them for the very first time. And you’ve been doing that for 35 years,” Nicks said. “We want all your dreams to come true. We want love for you.”

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Thinking about tomorrow: Fleetwood Mac revives great memories — and creates new ones
by Clifford Pugh
Photo by Clifford Pugh

The lines to get into the Toyota Center Wednesday night for the Fleetwood Mac concert were unusually long and slow as security guards searched handbags for cameras and directed ticket holders inside to check the confiscated items at the counter. At a time when everyone has cell phones that can shoot photos, it seemed like a particularly clumsy directive. 

"They're old people," a security guard explained, referring to the iconic band of the late 1970s as she directed my friend inside. "They don't want (pictures of themselves) out."

Indeed the band's longtime members, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, are all north of 60 and looked a little long in the tooth as they burst onstage even before a lot of the audience had made it to their seats. But age didn't seem to matter as the band performed like new kids on the block in a nearly three-hour show that covered most of their greatest hits along with some poignant tunes that recalled as much of our wistful past as theirs.

The band opened with several of their most popular hits, "Second Hand News," a perfect sing-along song, followed by somewhat sluggish versions of "The Chain" and "Dreams."After Buckingham introduced a song, "Sad Angel," from the band's new EP, the band returned to another classic, "Rhiannon," which showcases Nicks' voice but in a lower key, which, sadly to this ear, lacked the warmth and glow of her earlier work.

Buckingham then took center stage with a couple of songs from the band's experimental 1979 album, Tusk, the punk-tinged "Not That Funny" and the album's title tune, which delighted hardcore Fleetwood Mac fans among the sellout crowd.

With unparalleled guitar riffs and a voice that has grown stronger with age, Buckingham is certainly the heart of the band. But even with a diminished voice, Nicks remains the band's soul. And as the evening progressed, she dominated the stage, swathed in black, with blonde hair framing her face, a tambourine often on her arm and a whiskey-dipped voice that drew richer with each song.

She performed the little-known "Sisters of the Moon," also from the Tusk album, noting this song has not been done on a tour since 1981. She took control with a couple of other big hits, "Sara" and the hauntingly beautiful "Landslide," a duet with Buckingham, as the crowd sang along to the words,"I'm getting older, too."

Nicks dedicated the song to a Houston friend who had apparently fought off a debilitating illness since she was "teeny tiny." "You little Welsh witch, this is for you," Nicks said.

At this point, the concert was barely half over, but the band seemed to draw energy from the audience through a series of hits, including "Without You," in which Nicks' endearing yet rambling introduction was longer than the song, "Gold Dust Woman," "Gypsy" and "Stand Back." Every time she twirled, the audience roared.

By the time the band got to "Go Your Own Way," an electric duet between Nicks and Buckingham with undertones of their one-time romantic relationship — the chemistry surely remains — everyone in the audience was up and dancing like they didn't have to go to work today.

House lights were often raised so the band could make eye contact with the adoring crowd and even after two encores, including the infectious "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)," Nicks, Buckingham and drummer Fleetwood didn't want to leave the stage. They lingered, each giving heartfelt thanks to the audience, as Fleetwood, who looks a bit like Santa Claus with a white beard and twinkle in his eye, encouraged everyone to "take care of yourself" and "be kind to one another."

Is the band as good as the first time I saw them in 1977 in Birmingham, Ala., soon after their monster album, Rumours, hit the top of the charts? I'd have to say no, because we were all younger then, and besides, to fans like me, Fleetwood Mac without Christine McVie really isn't Fleetwood Mac.

But the current band still left me with goosebumps as their songs unleashed a flood of fond memories — and they're still having a hell of a fun time doing it.

“Second Hand News”
“The Chaim”
“Sad Angel”
“Not That Funny”
“Sisters of the Moon”
“Big Love”
“Never Going Back Again”
“Without You”
“Eyes of the World”
“Gold Dust Woman”
“I’m So Afraid”
“Stand Back”
“Go Your Own Way”
“World Turning”
“Don’t Stop”
“Silver Springs”
“Say Goodbye”


Panthers said...

Been waiting months to see you. This was my 50th birthday present from a friend. How disappointing :((((

DV said...

"Panthers", it's too bad you were a rare one out of the thousands I was among last night who enjoyed the show tremendously!!
Fleetwood Mac never disappoints, they're extraordinarily talented and their shows are still as enjoyable ever... they pour their heart and soul into every moment we're fortunate to share with them, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for the memories, old and new

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed too! Bad seats, didn't hear Tell Me Lies, and the new stuff stunk

Anonymous said...

I did not miss Christine McVie one bit, but I have never liked her songs much...I had so much fun...The energy and talent of these guys who are all 10+ years older than I am was so inspiring...I never once thought, "Ok, somebody needs to tell them to stop now," as I have with some other acts...Stevie's voice was velvet, Lindsey was masterful, and I want to be Mick Fleetwood when I grow up...I did miss hearing a John McVie bass solo...was I the only one?

Gina Watts said...

I had an amazing time as well. Fleetwood Mac has stood the test of time. I think the people were terrible but not Fleetwood. They rocked. Yeah ok so they don't sound like they did back in the 70s but come on, they age just like we do. They're no immortal. They put on the best show I've ever seen. They did their best to get people out of their seats and most of the people who stood to try and have a good time were that were around me were told to sit by other people. No way was I going to sit! I went to have a good time and that's what I did. Stop complaining. If you didn't like it then you should never go to see them again. I loved the show!

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