Friday, February 13, 2015

Review | Photos | Video: Fleetwood Mac Live in Milwaukee February 12, 2015

Moments of strength, and flatness, for Fleetwood Mac at BMO Harris Bradley Center
by Piet Levy

With Christine McVie back in Fleetwood Mac after more than 16 years, singer and guitarist Lindsey
Buckingham told a near-capacity BMO Harris Bradley Center Thursday "we begin a profound, poetic and I think a prolific new chapter."

Can't say Thursday's show was always profound, and it's highly doubtful Mac — which dropped its self-titled album, the first with game-changing additions Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks, four decades ago this year — is going to be all that prolific going forward.

But it did seem that Buckingham and most of the band believed the words he was saying. And that conviction, coupled with enduring talent and classic rock songs, was enough to make Thursday's two-and-a-half-hour show, the 54th on its current tour, a nice little footnote for Milwaukee fans.

McVie, however, seemed to live by very different words she uttered: "I'm not as strong as I used to be," as sung during "Say You Love Me." Her appearance was welcome for sentimental reasons, evident by the warm response when she took lead vocals for the first time in the night, for "You Make Loving Fun."

But there were moments of vocal flatness — most obvious at concert's end for her signature "Songbird," alone on piano with Buckingham on electric guitar — and McVie lacked the charisma of her now more-seasoned singing bandmates. Even drummer Mick Fleetwood — perched behind his decked-out kit with chimes and gong — had more pizzazz, albeit perhaps too much when he disguised a lengthy and ultimately none too impressive drum solo during "World Turning" with hollow, hype-fanning pseudo scat-speak.

There were other moments of self-indulgence. "Go Your Own Way," one of several enduring singles from the band's mega-blockbuster "Rumours," ends on the album with a sudden, anti-climactic fade, but Thursday's drawn-out, jam-session finale wasn't much of an improvement.

And Buckingham, like Fleetwood, was a ham, yelping like a cowboy between some songs, cackling like a pirate at the start of a still-rollicking "Tusk," and stomping about like a toddler throwing a tantrum once the song was over. His voice, while emotionally charged, also was a touch raw compared with the heavenly harmonies of Mac's '70s heyday. But his guitar playing, from the bluesy build on concert-opener "The Chain" to the bittersweet beauty of his acoustic guitar on "Landslide," was consistently exquisite.

Nicks acknowledged before "Landslide" — performed with just Buckingham by her side — that the pair had performed the song hundreds of times. But in dedicating it to her late father — it was his favorite song, she said — she still conveyed the same quiet majesty she brought to the first recording 40 years ago.

Nicks' alluring voice and mystical charisma led the band through anthemic yet intimate soft rock charmers like "Dreams," "Rhiannon" and "Gold Dust Woman" — a set list of hits so great that the band can be excused if that "prolific new chapter" never comes. After all, Fleetwood Mac already created a story for the ages.

■ The best part of the concert was a more stripped-down five-song set that included a few fond recollections about the origins of "Big Love" and "Gypsy." If Mac is really seeking a profound new chapter, it should consider a storytellers-oriented tour in smaller venues.

■ One reason the harmonies sounded so great Thursday was because there were up to five backing singers (two of them also supporting instrumentalists). Fleetwood let those musicians take a bow — but not once did he acknowledge a second drummer who played hidden behind the speaker stacks. For most of the night, the drummer was helping Fleetwood fill out the sound, but Fleetwood himself did handle his drum solo actually solo.

■ Notable banter: "On a personal note, let me quickly say how grateful I am and how fantastic it is to be standing here on this stage with these amazing musicians who are my musical family." — Christine McVie.



Unknown said...

Hey, lighten up a little on Christine McVie. She is 71 years old and still sounds and looks great. Her sultry, alto voice is still wonderful to hear. No, she can't hit the higher notes she could just 17 years ago, but her singing continues to be a joy to hear.

Steve H said...

After reading your review of The Fleetwood Mac show, it's apparent that I was at the awesome Fleetwood Mac concert while you must have attended the other one. Too bad, The Fleetwood Mac concert my wife and I saw was great.

Your reviews seem to habitually require 1/3 to 1/2 negative reflections regardless of the performer. Maybe an insight regarding your young, pompous, glass half empty view of life.

Most telling of your ivory tower mentality and approach to your craft is this doodle of your's;
"a nice little footnote for Milwaukee fans."


Anonymous said...

I agree with the 2 above comments. I have seen this show 4 times: 2 Madison Square Garden: XL Center in Ct and Verizon Center in DC----every concert was awesome!!! This band is the best band ever!!!

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if people would defend Stevie this way when a journalist attacks her voice. I was at a recent concert and Christine was singing flat, but everyone has an off night. She was wonderful anyway, as was Stevie.

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