Saturday, October 12, 2013

Christine McVie and me at the O2

Fleetwood Mac Live in London
Photo by @patbutcherer
The Southland Times

In an 11-month, 13-country (so far) adventure there have been plenty of ‘‘I’d die happy’’ moments. But, despite an ever-burgeoning passport, a self-satisfying list of European sights and South American escapades, and mastering the art of slipping through the masses to score the last empty seat on the Tube, I’ve struggled to think of another moment to top my list of moments since setting off on the Big OE.

Yes, folks, you might have tickets to Vector Arena but I defy you to trump seeing Fleetwood Mac belt out folksy rock jam after jam at London’s O2 Arena.

The evening did not start off the way I hoped.

After making the mistake of first heading to a bar in the Square Mile for some pre-show drinks (oh sure, I’ll pay £19 for a shared cocktail that arrives in a miniature bathtub filled mainly of ice cubes not booze, and, oh sure, I’d love to be surrounded by Hooray Henrys loudly discussing how many zeros are in their salaries! That doesn’t sound irritating at all) we came to our senses and decided to venture to the surely packed-to-the-brim bars around the stadium.

From there the night was on a steady, skyrocketing improve.

In a moment of sheer brilliance, a consensus to buy some cheap Sav at a mini Tesco was reached so, upon arrival in Greenwich, we joined the troupe of concert-goers lounging around the concrete, supping in both London’s tacit approval of public drinking and the surprisingly balmy autumn evening.

(The evening’s warm-up entertainment: peering at the group of people taking part in the newest craze for London singletons, a group blind-date version of Up At the O2 – getting strapped into a harness and venturing out onto the 52m-high walkway, in the dark no less, is one way to sort the men from the boys, I s’pose.)

Then it was time for the night to reach what I thought would be its pinnacle – hours of live Fleetwood Mac listening pleasure.

There aren’t many bands that sound as good live as they do on their polished to-perfection iTunes downloads. Even fewer that can make that claim, when the average age of its five ‘‘classic’’ members clocks in at 66.4 years.

Fleetwood Mac is not one of those bands.

Ignoring the buzz-kills who seem to crop up at every concert – I kid you not, the guy next to me had his fingers in his ears the whole time – and the burning in my heel-clad feet, I was one of those who defied the posse of lemony ladies, and the security guards they tried to enlist, who kept insisting everybody ‘‘sit down’’. At. A. Concert. Most people have one act that serves as their happy place.

For me, that’s Fleetwood Mac, who have been a constant presence during summers in Wanaka, house parties, and road trips since ages ago.

So to be in the audience at the O2 – a venue that would be hard to beat, no matter who you’re listening to – was magic.

To be in the audience to witness Christine McVie – arguably the band’s most underrated member – perform with them since the Nineties, was even better. That, my friends, was the pinnacle. (Of the night, and possibly also my life.)

The only disappointment, apres concert, was watching the video clips I somehow managed to shoot, and being confronted with now-irrefutable proof my alleged singing is actually more like tone-deaf warbling.

Once, I made a special point to thank Mum in public for teaching me all the words to Fleetwood Mac.

I’m not sure the people around me would agree – and maybe that explains the dude next to me – but what I said then still stands.

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