Monday, April 06, 2015

Review: Lindsey Buckingham was the undisputed star of the evening

Fleetwood Mac deliver 'Second Hand News' in Vancouver
By Robert Collins

Attending fans’ opinion of last night’s Fleetwood Mac concert at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena
depended entirely on whether or not they were present at the same venue four and a half months ago, the last time the band graced the city.

For those for who last night was their first taste of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘On With The Show’ tour, their senses are still tingling from the experience today. The Kings and Queens of Soft Rock still reigned, cranking out two and a quarter hours of gems with energy and style.

The long absent Christine McVie, now firmly re-entrenched in the line up, gave the band the vocal ammunition to roll out classics like “You Make Loving Fun,” “Little Lies” and “Say You Love Me.” After a touch of trouble on certain high notes early on, she soon slotted into her musical groove, finishing the night strong with a honky tonk piano solo adding an extra sheen of fun to “Don’t Stop.”

In terms of vocals, Stevie Nicks was in richer form than on her previous visit to Vancouver, wisely navigating her way around the high notes during “Rhiannon,” “Landslide” and her opus, the lyrically merciless “Gold Dust Woman.”

Stealing the show throughout, Lindsey Buckingham was the undisputed star of the evening, his guitars taking centre stage through opener “The Chain,” the perfect power pop of “Second Hand News” and “I Know I’m Not Wrong,” and hosting finger picking acoustic wizardry on “Big Love” and “Never Going Back.”

Those who were lucky enough to be at Rogers Arena back in November probably have a different view of last night.

Because Fleetwood Mac, for all their song writing and technical excellence, delivered the exact same concert that they brought with them four-and-a-half short months ago. Same set list. Same pre-song stories. They were even wearing the same clothes.

The band has their reasons. At an arena level, lighting and video cues are not immediately changeable through the tap of a laptop.

And yet, with such a significant gap between Vancouver dates, musicians of their ability and back catalogue should be able to switch up their set list. It seems inconceivable that select changes couldn’t be made to prevent the same songs appearing in the same order, punctuated by the same scripted introductions and anecdotes the band have been relying on through the tour.

Read the review in the link in the first paragraph. Apart from an absent “Songbird” last night, nothing had changed.

This is no reflection on Fleetwood Mac’s unquestionably excellent music. But playing the same concert to (presumably) a significant percentage of repeat ticket buyers destroyed the illusion that band and audience was sharing a unique, never-to-be repeated moment. That’s what makes the rock concert such a special experience. Its magic is fleeting.

Even if a tour remains constant day after day, that time it visited your city was unforgettable. You had to be there to feel it.

By repeating themselves so thoroughly, what seemed like moments of in-the-moment passion were revealed to be merely an act. Like the magician explaining the slight of hand behind the tricks, you admire the skill, but the wonder is gone.


Anonymous said...

Great review, and the last few paragraphs are precisely why I decided to sit this tour out and put my concert money toward Wilco.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Finally, a true review. This reviewer said what my husband and I said after the 2 shows we attended! It is truly a shame that such a talented band has reduced itself to becoming so rote. I love this band and expected them to be more like the artists they use to be.

Unknown said...

Of you play als much shows als they do it is completely understandable that there is no room for improvisations. If you don't want that go visit bands at the start of their careers.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with that last comment.
Look at Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They swap out a handful of songs every night and change things up. They do this for two reasons: They know they have dedicated fans who come to more than one show on a tour. They love playing live and they don't want to get bored. There's nothing worse when gifted singers and musicians start phoning it in. But this isn't new. It was happening on The Dance tour too. Fleetwood Mac is an amazing live band; but unfortunately there isn't a lot of thrill if you go more than once on a tour. And that's too bad, because they certainly have nights when they are on fire, and the energy is astonishing.

Robert said...

I agree that it's a shame that FM played the exact same show this whole tour. But to say the band is "becoming" rote is a lie. The band has ALWAYS had iron-clad setlists. The only difference is that they used to try things out and then drop them halfway through the tour. But they've never added new songs. And so far on this tour, they haven't had time to. They probably just shouldn't have gone back to so many of the same cities within a few months.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that a band of this caliber should be able to alternate a few different songs between shows. These are seasoned musicians with indisputable talents - why not mix it up a little? I definitely do not like the rehearsed conversations and stories that are repeated verbatim each night. It starts to feel extremely disingenuous. I'm not saying its always easy to come up with new and witty things to engage a different audience every night. But I would rather have little or no speeches as opposed to repeating the same thing night after night. This is why I couldn't justify spending another $500.00 to see them the second time. It would've been like deja vu!

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