Showing posts with label Fleetwood Mac Unleashed Tour Review - Oakland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fleetwood Mac Unleashed Tour Review - Oakland. Show all posts

Monday, May 25, 2009

(REVIEW) Fleetwood Mac Live in Oakland May 20, 2009

Planet Out

The music of mega group Fleetwood Mac has always sounded like a quiet storm to me… and not simply because of the song "Storm," the "Dreams" lyric: "Thunder only happens when it's raining" and the rain scene in the "Gypsy" video.

Between Mick Fleetwood's steady drumming, Christine McVie's precise keyboarding and Stevie Nick's haunting vocals, I just hear rain.

But I say a quiet storm because it's not a torrential downpour, it's not a day that you want to get shelter from -- unless it's to, dare I say it, "make love" on a four poster bed draped in velvet – but rather one best spent twirling around in the rain, with your inner-gypsy hanging out.

Still, there's something to the fact that just under the surface of much of this soft classic rock, there are underlying notes of the much talked-about, written-about, dwelled-upon Buckingham-Nicks break up. 

True, it was the end of their relationship that provided most of the inspiration for the classic 1977 "Rumours" album as well as a third of the 23-song set of their current "Unleashed" tour which hit Oakland Arena on May 20. The band played on at HP Pavilion in San Jose on May 21. 

On a sparse, black and white and red all over set (featuring little more than a handful of video screens, alternating between new visuals and timeless video clips), and bolstered by three backup singers, an added guitarist and a harmonizing keyboardist (presumably filling in for the decade-long absent Christine McVie) the quartet of singer Stevie Nicks, singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie tackled three decades of greatest hits and should-have-beens.

Opening with the some might say optimistic mid-tempo number "Monday Morning," the band began drawing fans in with the haunting breakup tracks "The Chain" and "Dreams," for which Nicks danced around in her black bustier dress with flowy skirts and sequined shoulder trim [she wore a red version in the second half of the show], clutched her scarved and chained mic stand, often gripping the sparkly semiprecious strands like rosaries or shook her tambourine, trailed by multi-colored streamers, as Buckingham strummed away. Nick's trademark raspy vocals and tambourine-playing were in top form and Buckingham's guitar-playing was spot on.

After welcoming Bay Area fans, Buckingham gave the audience the blood that they demanded by addressing the band's troubles over the years: "We have a convoluted and complex emotional history, and we've been together a long time, which works in our favor," he said. "We've taken long breaks, but every time we get back together it's different, but there's always forward motion." 

So while rehearsing for this greatest hits tour, without the pressure of selling a new album, the band decided to just have fun and "do the songs that we love a lot and hopefully the ones you love, too," he added. 

It was clear that "the man with the magic fingers" was enjoying himself, particularly his own guitar skills mid-show, even giving himself the proverbial pat on the back for his excellent riffing on tracks like the indelible "Tusk," "Big Love" and the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac number "Oh Well," complete with jumps that left him clutching his heart and mouthing "Yeah."

But the true magic happened when Buckingham and "our first lady" Nicks produced beautiful harmonies together on a slowed-down, country-fried version of "Gypsy," which Nicks said was about the wonderful time she and Lindsey spent in San Francisco during the 60's summers of love, on "Rhiannon," "Second Hand News," the first recorded song on the "Rumours" album, which Buckingham described as "a sad song, with some humor, optimism and a good dose of aggression," "Storms," a dark rarity about, according to Buckingham, "stormy, dark, deep, stormy, difficult problems" which features the evocative lyrics, "I'd like to leave you with something warm. But never have I been a blue calm sea. I have always been a storm," "Go Your Own Way," which morphed into a gorgeous psych jam session as Nicks twirled around in a top hat. 

While the rhythm section of drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, the band's founders and backbones for the last 42 years, really shone at the end – I guarantee that no one will soon forget the wild-eyed, high energy drummer's solo during the encore section of the show -- the band sounded most in synch for one of my favorite songs, "Gold Dust Woman," for which a hunched-over Nicks, wrapped in a gold shawl appeared cobra-like, dancing hypnotically with her back to the audience, as the band accompanied her symbiotically.

But it was a moment during "Sara" where Nicks met Buckingham half way on stage and rested her head on his shoulder that was most bonding – that is until a shout from one crowd member was heard: "Don't do it." 

I realized at that moment that for many a fan, Fleetwood Mac needs the tension, that aforementioned quiet storm to succeed. If the band were one big lovefest all the time, we might not all have been there that night at Oakland Arena -- 30 years later.

(Images courtesy of Getty)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

(REVIEW) Fleetwood Mac Live in Oakland, CA May 20, 2009

Fleetwood Mac at the Oracle Arena

Photo by Christopher Victorio

Delving into the convoluted history of Fleetwood Mac is tantamount to stepping in a cow pile for the casual fan (and here I shall raise my hand), so let's sidestep cries of "heresy!" and stick to what went down at the Oracle last night.

When you've got a catalogue of hits like Fleetwood Mac, the quality of the show leans heavily on whether or not the band is in top form. And on this night, for most of the 20-song set, the band was tight and the vocals crisp. Father Time may have stiffened the bones of John McVie and Stevie Nicks (who headed backstage for a break and shawl swap after almost every song), but Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham had obviously been eating their spinach - these two gentlemen of Pop had far more fun than anyone in the audience. Which is no easy feat considering the crowd was on its feet for more than half of the show, tears of nostalgia wetting many an eye.

Buckingham danced around the stage like a teen guitarist at his first show, beating his chest and blowing kisses to the crowd in heartfelt thanks - all but leaping into the pit of fans below in enthusiasm. (At one point, he had at least 6 pairs of fan hands playing his guitar.) Nicks, for her part, was her gypsy self, snaking hands in the air and gently swirling beneath the spotlights as best she could -- to be honest, from where we sat, she looked as though she were almost in pain, but when she sang it was smooth and seemed effortless.

The addition of three back-up singers, a guitarist and keyboardist (who also sang harmonies) contributed to the lush sound that is the hallmark of many a Fleetwood Mac recording.

Both Nicks and Buckingham commented on how thrilled they were to be back in the Bay, where their former band Fritz opened for acts like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. San Francisco is the "velvet underground" mentioned in "Gypsy," added Nicks before launching into the song.

Fan favorites "Go Your Own Way," "Landslide," "Dreams," "Say You Love Me" and "Rhiannon" made appearances, as did "Storms," which Nicks said had never been performed onstage outside the current tour.

Add dueling guitar leads between veteran guitarist Neale Heywood and Buckingham and an over-the-top drum solo from Fleetwood and you've got a show that will be bragged about having been at for quite some time.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: Ever the sap, I was moved to tears by "Landslide."
Random Detail: Mick Fleetwood's flashy fire engine-red shoes were too cute.
By the way: Tickets are still available for tonight's Fleetwood Mac show in San Jose. Go go go.

VIDEO: Fleetwood Mac Live in Oakland, CA May 20, 2009

Rhiannon, Gypsy & The Chain