Friday, September 13, 2019

Fleetwood Mac Live in Auckland, NZ September 12, 2019

Fleetwood Mac Delights Auckland With New Musical Chemistry
By David Boyle
Photos:  Reuben / SomeBizarreMonkey

Legendary blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac swooped into the Spark Arena in Auckland, NZ like an albatross and delivered one of the best shows of the year.

Spoiler alert: if you are one of the many punters going to the next Fleetwood Mac concert stop reading now. If you were one of the ecstatic crowd that went last night read on with a grin because it is very likely you’ve been wearing that smile all night.

Rumours will forever be etched in my adolescent years, probably more than most because my mate Boy (really Michael) had a cassette of the album, his only one actually, jammed in his car stereo. Hopeless! So every time we went out with the boys in his car it was all we heard. Even then I didn’t get sick of it. Great days!

Looking around the sold-out arena, it was clear to see that a Fleetwood Mac song or album was part of the many lives present here as well... and so many were hoping to catch that moment again. That said, the younger generation turned up too, which blows my mind given this band first hit the stage back in 1967 as a British Blues band.

Nestled nicely in our seats, the lights dimmed and the crowd roared as the band and its extensive entourage proceeded onto the stage. Original band members John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood casually went to their positions and the forever adolescent Mick had a smile bigger than the Cheshire cat as he picked up his sticks for what must be the millionth time.

Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and our very own Neil Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House) plugged in and kicked off with The Chain to start the evening’s proceedings. This was quickly followed by Little Lies and Dreams.

The sound coming from the stage was brilliant, clean and clear. Having a total of 11 band members really filled the space and created an intimacy with the audience that you really don’t get to see that much these days at stadium sellouts.

Yes, it would have been great to see Lindsay Buckingham there, but it was just as exciting for me to watch Mike Campbell playing alongside Neil Finn. Mike was dressed in an array of eclectic clothes, including a jacket he said he picked up here in Auckland a number of years ago when playing with Bob Dylan. His guitar sound fitted so well along with Neil’s.

The other X factor was the singing and harmonies of both Stevie and Neil. With songs like Second Hand News, Say You Love Me and Go Your Own Way, showcasing their musical chemistry.

Christine McVie also sounded superb and shined like a diamond with her delicate vocals that don’t seem to have aged a day since she wrote and sung You Make Loving Fun back in 1977 and sounded just as fresh in 2019.

But the real engine room of the band since it first started in 67 was led from the back, as they have always done, with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. There is no other bass and drums combination quite like it. So it was really pleasing to see them give a nod back to those early days with Peter Green playing Black Magic Woman, Man Of The World and the cracking Oh Well. Rock blues at its best, which got most out of their seats to salute a bygone era.

To give everyone a breather, Mick then provided a drum solo. He was just like a kid with a new toy at Christmas and showed off his talent with gusto, egging the crowd on along the way. I can’t wait to see him again in a couple of weeks’ time at the Playing It Strange charity event on 23 September at the Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland with Sir Bob Geldof, where I hope to hear more about his love of life, music and tales to tell.

There were other nods to times gone by, with the band joining Neil in an excellent version of I Got You and Crowded House's Don’t Dream It's Over with Stevie taking the time by saying “there aren’t many songs that touch you and are special but this is one of them.” I was thinking Neil must sometimes still be pinching himself being in this band and playing with these living legends. Though it did feel they too were in awe, which is even more mind-blowing.

Before we knew it we were almost at the end, with a rousing version of Go Your Own Way to close out the incredible set.

By now, everyone was out of their seats yelling out for more and it was clear they had experienced something special. A short wait and then Stevie gave a nod to Mike and of course to the great legend Tom Petty. There is history with these two and Tom’s image appeared as the first chords of Free Fallin’ came off Mike’s guitar. One of the real highlights of the night for me and I still feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising as I type about it now.

With a few tears swept away, the band finished the night with, of course, Don’t Stop - an anthem for many including me. This is one of the best singalong feel-good tracks ever recorded and the band played it like their lives depended on it.

Then it was all over. I looked around the audience and there was not a frown to be found. This was a slick show that has been going for seven months and could go on for years if they wanted to. All I know is that I saw a little bit of history being made even more special by having a Kiwi connection at the front and centre, flying our flag with the best of them.

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