Sunday, December 07, 2014

Review: Fleetwood Mac Returns to Portland with Original Crew and Beloved Songs

Fleetwood Mac returns impressively with original crew and beloved songs
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer
Seattle Gay News


Not that any tour delivering Fleetwood Mac to the Northwest isn't special, but their latest venture, which included stops at the Tacoma Dome and Portland's Moda Center recently, were especially momentous because it reunited the full band with the return of Christine McVie. This marked the first time in 16 years that the keyboardist-vocalist played a succession of live dates with the supergroup - and boy, did they make up for lost time! 

The show began, as it has in previous outings, with the strumming chords of 'The Chain,' from Fleetwood Mac's seminal recording Rumours, which to date has sold over 45 million copies worldwide, firmly staking its position on the list of all-time best-selling albums. Nine of the eleven tracks from the Grammy-winning record were performed at the concert, which was attended by a capacity crowd that ranged from teenagers to twentysomethings to gray-haired grandparents. 

It didn't take long for McVie to get back into the mix, diving into the second number, 'You Make Loving Fun.' But as much as we love McVie, it's Stevie Nicks who we adore and worship - the centerpiece of this nostalgic five-piece act. The spirited singer-songwriter wove her magic on a pair of Mac classics, 'Dreams' and 'Rhiannon,' drawing an invisible heart by her microphone at the end of the former, twirling in a circle during the latter. Dressed from head to toe in all black - in a form-fitting dress with ruffly bottom, overcoat, tights, ankle-length boots - Nicks looked exquisite, at times shaking a tambourine, other moments in her own little universe, as we expect and want her to be. 

Lindsey Buckingham, still devilishly handsome and brilliant on guitar, spoke sincerely to the audience, thanking us for sticking with Fleetwood Mac as it grew and persevered through the good times and the bad. 

'It feels very circular for us, very complete,' he said in regards to McVie rejoining the band. 

Buckingham took the lead on 'Second Hand News,' and then passed the reigns to Nicks again for a tender rendition of 'Rihannon.' Meanwhile, with McVie as part of the ensemble again, familiar favorites that were shelved for previous tours, such as 'Everywhere' and 'Over My Head,' were dusted off and repolished for this road outing, sounding fresh and wonderful decades later. 

'Tusk' began with Buckingham slowly singing the first verse, but gradually picked up speed and turned into a danceable number when video footage of the USC Trojan Marching Band flashed on a giant LED screen at the back of the stage. Buckingham was on fire during 'Big Love,' a song originally intended for a solo album, playing an acoustic guitar like a metal-head, and screaming out the 'uh-ahhs' at the end like a madman. 

There were a few diversions from the big hits at Moda Center, which seats slightly more people than Seattle's Key Arena. 'I Know I'm Not Wrong' and the Nicks-driven 'Sisters of the Moon,' both from 1979's Tusk album, were surprise entries on the set list, as was 'I'm So Afraid,' a track from 1975's self-titled release. 'Seven Wonders,' off 1987's Tango in the Night, also resurfaced for the Portland concert. 

Even with 20,000 fans in attendance, the show at moments felt intimate, like when Nicks gorgeously and quietly crooned 'Landslide,' which she described as 'an old song for the brokenhearted that means a lot to me.' It was also her father's favorite. Equally wonderful was Nicks' introduction of 'Gypsy,' literally written from an experience of going into a clothing boutique in San Francisco pre-Fleetwood Mac and not being able to afford anything, yet somehow knowing she'd return to it when she became successful. The store was called the Velvet Underground and had a room decorated with lace and paper flowers, all referenced in the song. 

The main set concluded with a fiery run-through of 'Go Your Own Way.' With the entire audience on its feet, cheering loudly, the group returned for an encore that began with yet another oldie but goodie, 'World Turning' that featured the extremely talented and usual oddball Mick Fleetwood in a five to seven-minute drum solo. That was followed by the always festive 'Don't Stop,' with Nicks donning a top hat, and the '90s pop smash 'Silver Springs.' McVie closed it out with a stellar solo performance of 'Songbird,' playing a baby grand piano at center stage. 

Sixteen years went by without the complete Fleetwood Mac on stage, and while they've always put on an incredible show, regardless of the lineup, there was that essential component missing. This time, it was the real deal. Fans were treated to a two hour-plus concert that included the band's most noted work and a few rarities. Most importantly, they saw what they'd been wanting to see for so long - Nicks, Buckingham, Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie - together again!

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