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)

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The band, still potent although a bit weather-worn and missing Christine McVie, revisits 'Rumours' and 'Tusk' during a sprawling show

Fleetwood Mac, the American-British powerhouse behind one of the bestselling albums of all time, is rock's greatest example of the good gained from ignoring every bit of sage advice known to humans about love and relationships.

But thank the dysfunctional heavens they did: The Mac has emerged some 30 years later as a weather-worn but still gripping outfit, currently touring in its most potent configuration, minus the singer and songwriter of some of its most durable hits, the retired Christine McVie.

For those needing a refresher course in popular rock scandal, the band forged ahead for 1977's blockbuster "Rumours" despite breakups between front couple Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and founding member John McVie and wife Christine.

It's all ancient history now -- or is it? This latest greatest hits trek, titled "The Unleashed Tour," inevitably finds the band revisiting "Rumours" and its more challenging follow-up, the sprawling and fantastic "Tusk," but instead of shying away from its fractious history, Fleetwood Mac has woven it into the concert repertoire.

In one of his song introductions at Anaheim's Honda Center on Saturday night, Buckingham explained that the first "Rumours" tune they recorded revealed his emotional temperature at that moment -- anger, bitterness, even a little humor, but "we had to reconcile . . . at least for a short time." The band then launched into one of its strongest performances of the night, a thrillingly muscular "Second Hand News."

Buckingham often spoke with the measured tones of someone who's been in therapy. Other times, he would yowl, stamp his feet or thump his lean-muscled chest before pointing reverently at the crowd. He also dropped a big hint about the Mac's future: "There's no new album to promote yet" (his emphasis).

Nicks occupied her side of the stage with an entirely different energy. Clutching a tambourine festooned with strips of fabric, her performance was sometimes too sedate, though not without breakthrough moments of fiery engagement.

Maybe the gypsy queen was conserving her energy for the lengthy show (total time was 2 hours and 40 minutes), but her early performance of "Dreams" only spottily struck on the song's slumberous wisdom. Nicks' range has narrowed over the years, but by the middle of the set her voice seemed warmed up, her presence more keen.

For "Gold Dust Woman," Nicks, wrapped in one of her many luminous shawls of the night, reveled in her favorite role of stage-bound shaman, her brown eyes finally blazing as she gave her most convincing vocal performance of the night. McVie and Fleetwood provided stellar rhythm support as she closed the song in a classic Nicks position -- draped arms out, back to the crowd, light pouring in around her figure.

Despite her listlessness at times, Nicks is no less a treasure to behold, the rare rock 'n' roll frontwoman who's still inspiring to legions of young bands. Her sense of mystique provides an important counterpoint to Buckingham, who -- blistering guitar solos and all -- is familiarly situated in the rock god vein.

But when Buckingham and Nicks hugged at the end of "Sara," an awkward but nevertheless moving gesture, they proved they have the ability to surprise the audience as well as each other. And so new depths of Fleetwood Mac will surely be plumbed for lovers everywhere, old and new.

--Margaret Wappler
Photo credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times


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Fleetwood Mac's chatty journey through the past
The band revels in revealing stories behind the songs for first tour in five years.

They're calling it Unleashed: Hits Tour 2009, this latest Fleetwood Mac outing, which stopped Saturday night at a packed Honda Center in Anaheim and returns next week to play Staples Center, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and San Diego Sports Arena. But that billing is a misnomer two ways.

Unleashed? Well, yes and no. If by "unleashed" you mean "free to do as we please," then sure, there's a touch of the Mac unbound here – especially as the continuing "Rumours" lineup (sadly, still without Christine McVie) is touring for the first time with no new album to promote, theoretically opening the door for them to Jack FM this thing and play what they like.

Of course, when I hear "unleashed" I think of fearless, mercurial, untamed, electrifying musicianship – not exactly what anyone has thought of Fleetwood Mac since Peter Green split at the turn of the '70s. But, again, there's a kernel of truth in their advertising. Check the Stones and the Who for proof: Hall of Famers start performing differently once they reach their 60s, as everyone but Lindsey Buckingham has. (He'll hit six-oh come October; Stevie Nicks turns 61 on Tuesday. Mick Fleetwood is 62 come June and John McVie is six months into his 63rd year.)

There's a looseness that sets in when bands cross that threshold. Partly that's a natural result of aging, as stars start to slow down, move more deliberately (even in the sort of platform boots Stevie favors these days) and tweak material to fit vocal registers that don't range as high as they used to. But more so it's a case of returning to the sort of devil-may-care attitude that fuels so many future rock icons when they're younger.

It isn't that Fleetwood Mac has stopped caring how they sound. It's that they've stopped caring so much about how they sound – whether they've slurred this lyric or blurred that riff or botched a harmony. At some point meticulousness became an albatross. Now, instead of failing to be what they were, they've chosen to perform in the moment and not worry about living up to a rusting ideal. "Let's just go out and have fun," Lindsey put it with uncharacteristic succinctness.

Consequently, as with peers and forebears still making a hearty racket, the result is a new kind of ramshackle fierceness. Not to suggest that a group as relatively mellow as Mac is suddenly roaring like Page and Plant reunited, but Saturday night there was noticeable punch and kick to just about everything – which was anticipated on behemoths like "Tusk" and "I'm So Afraid" (bolstered by another scorching solo from Lindsey) yet proved surprising on swampier fare like "The Chain" and "Gold Dust Woman" and sleeker stuff like "Rhiannon" and "Gypsy."

But getting back to the tour title … "Hits," they say? Again, yes and no. And whose hits, for that matter? As with the Eagles, the Mac has taken to including solo fare: Stevie's chugging "Stand Back" late in the game, Lindsey's "Go Insane" early on, accompanied by mutating ink-blot visuals.

True, the majority of the band's 23 selections on this tour (the set list never changes) remain indestructible classic-rock staples – in addition to the ones I've already named you can add "Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop," "Second Hand News," "Big Love," "Landslide," the positively dreamy "Sara." Yet even out of that list not everything was a "hit," per se, while numbers like "I Know I'm Not Wrong" and "Storms" (the latter chosen because it had never been played live before) don't even qualify as old-school FM radio gems the way "World Turning" or the evening-closing "Silver Springs" do.

It's also difficult to stage a best-of show when a tunesmith as formidable and essential as Christine McVie remains retired. Expectedly absent were "Over My Head," "You Make Loving Fun," "Little Lies" and "Hold Me." "Say You Love Me," however, was dusted off in tribute, with Stevie (in unflattering makeup that made her look wasted much of the time) and Lindsey (constantly wearing a post-euphoric expression resembling Bill Murray) capably providing McVie's melody.

Also, late in the evening, as Stevie exited once more for a costume change and potty break, the rest of the band served up a plenty raucous (if never quite ripping) rendition of the pre-mega-Mac standard "Oh Well," a fine homage to the group's roots in heavy blues-rock.

Otherwise this satisfying revue was precisely what it should have been called: "The Stevie & Lindsey Show," with all the hoary melodrama and esoteric between-song ramblings that you'd expect from such a program. Kicked off with "Monday Morning," the first track on the first album (1975's "Fleetwood Mac") Buckingham-Nicks appeared on, the performance often felt like a "Storytellers" session, and though it played well to a full house, it arguably would have come off better across several nights at a venue half the size – say, the Greek.

Some tales were illuminating and insightful, particularly Stevie's reminiscences of those heady San Francisco days in the '60s that led her to pen "Gypsy." Other comments, especially from increasingly self-satisfied Lindsey, tended to bog things down. Revealing the roots of a song is one thing, but to drone on and on in pseudo-profound fashion ("Los Angeles has a way of drawing you in on your own terms," good grief) ultimately saps strength and kills momentum. It's a bad habit of his, developed from small-theater solo touring where more ardent fans are willing to indulge his rambling yet haltingly paced thoughts. In an arena, however, it's often best to let the music do the talking.

Personally, I appreciated the telling little moments. The way old flames Stevie and Lindsey entered hand-in-hand, for instance – that was obviously sentimental, OK, but it also established the night's theme with sweetness. Likewise, the acoustic pairing of "Landslide" and a considerably slower, almost theatrical "Never Going Back Again" spoke volumes about the "complex and convoluted emotional history" Lindsey referred to earlier in the set.

An even more compelling (if utterly fleeting) glimpse of the real Mac, however, came nearly at the end – when Mick Fleetwood, looking more and more like Tolkein's Gandalf, strode gallantly across the stage, eyeing the crowd the whole time … and, as he approached John McVie, extended his arm for a job-well-done handshake without so much as looking at the bassist.

That's the Fleetwood Mac bond in a nutshell. They just know now – it's all instinctual. "Every time we get together it's different," Lindsey mentioned. True enough. But the core never changes.

Main set: Monday Morning / The Chain / Dreams / I Know I’m Not Wrong / Gypsy / Go Insane / Rhiannon / Second Hand News / Tusk / Sara / Big Love / Landslide / Never Going Back Again / Storms / Say You Love Me / Gold Dust Woman / Oh Well / I’m So Afraid / Stand Back / Go Your Own Way

First encore: World Turning (plus Mick Fleetwood solo) / Don’t Stop
Second encore: Silver Springs


Wow! I'm blown away... These kids sound so beautiful... Really great job!! Stevie apparently has seen the video and is so proud - even asking the chorus to join Fleetwood Mac at their show in New York City on June 11th and sing the song! 

How exciting for the kids...

This is from the PS22 Chorus blog:

Just got word from Stevie Nicks tour manager that she was completely blown away by the PS22 Chorus rendition of her song "Landslide!" He said she asked him to replay 2 times afterwards, crying each time she watched! Talk about humbling!! And the kicker?? She invited the PS22 Chorus to sing the song at Madison Square Garden for the upcoming June 11th Fleetwood Mac show!! Holy cow!!! Thanks must go to Perez Hilton for getting our video out there and making this incredible opportunity happen for the kids! Unbelievable!! And there's more to come....

Saturday, May 23, 2009


FLEETWOOD MAC performing at GM Place in Vancouver, Canada.
May 15, 2009
Caputured by: David Zhang David Zhang Photography

Photos: Fleetwood Mac, San Jose - May 21, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA May 21, 2009
HP Pavilion

Another set of remarkable
concert photos.

These Photos by: luxvobis

Review: Fleetwood Mac, San Jose, CA, May 21, 2009

Magnet Magazine

The last time I saw Fleetwood Mac in San Jose, there was a near-riot—and it wasn’t because people were trying to get in. When the U.K./American outfit played the half-empty, three-thousand capacity San Jose Civic Auditorium in January 1974, somebody must have thought the local residents were pretty stupid. The band that followed warm-up combo Silverhead (fronted by Michael DesBarres, husband of famed tell-all author/groupie Pamela DesBarres) onstage was definitely not Fleetwood Mac. We’d seen their photos, bought their records, and these were five guys named Moe. Patrons immediately stormed the box office, demanding their money back and were told that the band’s manager, Clifford Davis, who owned the name “Fleetwood Mac,” had fired the original members and hired an all-new lineup. Sign this list, kid, and you’ll be mailed a full refund. Still waiting for that check.

The itch was finally scratched last night when Fleetwood Mac played to a near-capacity crowd of more than 20 thousand at cavernous H.P. Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks. Lindsey Buckingham and Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks climbed onboard the Mac express in 1975 and shepherded the group through its superstar period during a 10-year run. Buckingham and Nicks reminisced onstage about their local connections. Both attended Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park in the late ’60s, San Jose State in the early ’70s, then cut their only Buckingham Nicks album in 1973. “When we played the Fillmore West opening for Quicksilver Messenger Service,” said Nicks, “Bill Graham screamed at a guy who was heckling me, ‘Get out of my Fillmore and don’t ever come back!’ That’s when I knew we were going somewhere.” Dressed in her trademark, free-flowing ensemble, Nicks spoke warmly of the boyfriend/girlfriend days she spent with Buckingham, dedicating the band’s ‘82 hit “Gypsy” to “the paper roses, the house we had in Los Gatos and the gypsies that we were.” Nicks, who just turned 60, tentatively tried a pirouette on ‘76 smash “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)” but gave up about halfway through. With her voice as strong as ever, it’s probably time to think about switching from playing Ophelia to a long run as Lady MacBeth.

Buckingham, a year younger than Nicks, proved especially feisty, reeling off a juicy guitar break on “Dreams” (”Thunder only happens when it’s raining”) and a solid vocal turn on a re-tooled version of “Oh Well,” a searing, stop-and-start blues number first cut by the 1970 version of Fleetwood Mac that featured guitartists Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan. It was also a treat to hear Nicks perform onetime Mac singer/keyboardist Christine McVie’s showcase number “Say You Love Me.” A hired keyboard player did his best to replace the USC marching band, the original accompanist (recorded at Dodger Stadium) for stirring 1979 number “Tusk,” a revered highlight of the Mac’s masterpiece double album of the same name.

Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie (the band’s original namesakes) remain in place, with the stork-like Fleetwood, dressed in black knickers and red shoes, particularly nimble on a gavotte-styled bow that followed big hit “Go Your Own Way.” Everyone knew what the encore would be—the only ace in the deck they hadn’t dealt. 1977 classic “Don’t Stop” gained a second life as the campaign theme song for Bill Clinton in 1992. It sounded every bit as exciting in the first term of Barack Obama.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Mick Fleetwood Unleashed in the Sunshine State
Episode 8

The latest video from Mick Fleetwood on the road with Fleetwood Mac.  Ft. Lauderdale in April.

Visit to view the video


Fleetwood Mac - Random Magazine Clippings from the 70's and 80's

PHOTOS: Fleetwood Mac Live in San Jose - 5/21/09

These are interesting Audience shots at the show
PHOTOS BY: tordragon (click for more)

PHOTOS: Fleetwood Mac San Jose, CA - Unleashed Tour 2009

SAN JOSE, CA, MAY 21, 2009

Photos by: ivanovash (click for more)