Saturday, June 22, 2024

Stevie Nicks Live in Chicago June 21, 2024 with Billy Joel

Review: Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks at Soldier Field was a night reliving the years with a couple of music icons

Photos: John J. Kim

It’s good to be Billy Joel. The veteran singer-songwriter admitted as much Friday at a packed Soldier Field, where he and Stevie Nicks concluded the 2024 stretch of their ongoing Two Icons One Night trek. And really, how could he not?

Primarily seated at a grand piano that rotated on a turntable, and surrounded by a versatile eight-piece band, an affable Joel entertained a football stadium’s worth of people while barely breaking a sweat amid a punishing heat wave. Holding court with recognizable oldies, laissez-faire attitude, goofball humor and his trademark flyswatter, he inhabited the titular role of his signature tune, “Piano Man.”

Sure, the stage was far grander, and the tip jar transformed into merch stands hawking $100 sweatshirts. Yet the gist of Joel’s 135-minute concert connected to the feeling of performances given in bars everywhere by pianists who always take the same requests and still manage to smile: comfort, reminiscence and sing-a-long melodies that slosh around in your head.

At Joel’s outdoor establishment, nostalgia, familiarity and professionalism ruled. The most recent song he sang dated back to President Clinton’s first term. The slickest visuals amounted to the backdrop screens depicting an iPad revealing finger-swiped images of historical figures cited in the listicle anthem “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Joel’s retro-minded approach proved wise. A production with the extravagance embraced by modern pop stars would’ve looked silly.

Besides, who needs choreography teams or pyrotechnics when faithful readings of doo-wop classics get the crowd on its feet? Or when a short snippet of “Hey Joe” — the bluesy revenge tune popularized by Jimi Hendrix — generated pleas for Joel to continue to the next stanza? With cameras panning the audience for reactions and consistently displaying that most fans knew every word to every chorus of Joel’s songs, following the work-smarter-not-harder observations outlined in “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” seemed a foregone conclusion.

No artist has more successfully traded on their back catalog than Joel. Though his contemporaries keep cranking out LPs, he figured out long ago that traditional release-and-promotion cycles could be bypassed without consequence at the box office. Joel recently said, for him, writing amounts to self-torture and fostered unhealthy addictions. With apparent seriousness, he also suggested that hardly anyone makes albums nowadays, which might surprise those who pay attention to the contemporary music scene.

No matter. Save for three originals, including one (“Turn the Lights Back On”) issued earlier this year, Joel effectively shut off the creative spigot decades ago. Rather than toil in a studio, he spent a majority of the past 30 years filling seats on his own terms. The singer ranks in the top 15 highest-grossing touring artists of all time. Banners touting his streaks of sold-out shows hang from the rafters of multiple East Coast arenas. Next month, Joel will end his unprecedented run of 150 sold-out hometown shows at Madison Square Garden, culminating a residency of the singer playing the venue on a monthly basis for 10 years.

Nice work, if you can get it. Joel mentioned he’s been lucky to do the same job since he was 15. Now 75, his head bald and neatly trimmed facial hair snowy white, the New York City native showed a levity that tended to escape him in the past. Joel derided one of his albums (“Streetlife Serenade”), placed his rock-star moves beneath those of Mick Jagger (a slowed and abbreviated version of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up”), paused and stared at his watch to elicit a pun (“The Longest Time”) and jested about the lack of special effects.

He also half-jokingly offered a disclaimer regarding his uncertainty about reaching upper-register notes. It contained plenty of truth. Joel’s midrange and low-end scope remain solid. His falsetto, too, admirably blended with group vocals. But attempts at hitting or holding lofty highs failed. A rough ride through “An Innocent Man” found him not only ceding choral elements to others, but stumbling amid verses.

Fortunately, the vocal snafus were limited. Joel activated black-tie crooner mode for an apropos stab at “My Kind of Town,” stood on an imaginary streetcorner for the cascading doo-wop of “Uptown Girl” and unveiled tonal elasticity for the moonlit ballad “New York State of Mind.” Eyebrows arched and eyes wide, he often looked as if he was ready to bite into a tall triple-decker club sandwich when he went all-in on mid-tempo material. Ironically, the most soulful Joel got occurred when multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Crystal Taliefero led a cover of “River Deep — Mountain High” in the middle of “The River of Dreams.”

Brassy horns provided additional assists and paired well with Joel’s stable piano lines. Steadiness, sentimental journeys to fictitious neighborhood joints and check-ins with common characters steered Joel’s direction. Aside from a cover of Puccini’s operatic aria “Nessun dorma” sung by band member Mike DelGuidice, there were no surprises or diversions, and scant edginess to interfere with the breezy moods. Even songs about lust (the drab “Sleeping with the Television On,” the prophetic “Sometimes a Fantasy,” the clever “Only the Good Die Young”) blushed with a high degree of innocence.

“I am not an innocent man,” Joel declared toward the end of the show. Fair enough. His music and persona, however, thrive on that illusion.

Joel boasts more hits than Nicks, yet the Fleetwood Mac legend possessed more depth, charisma and grit. Almost a year to the day since her memorable 2023 show at United Center, the 76-year-old faced several challenges she avoided then. The opening slot forced her to trim her set and curtail her amusing song introductions, though she injected some storytelling by talking at a rapid clip. The biggest issue concerned Nicks’ voice.

She twice apologized for hoarseness and leaned on backing vocalists for extra support. Despite the shortcomings, which extended to overly sharp nasal deliveries, Nicks demonstrated why she continues to enjoy a late-career surge in appreciation and influence. Feisty and forward, the twice-inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer kept it real by presenting her raspy, warts-and-all singing without artificial enhancements. Her body language did the rest.

Twirling, curtseying, bowing, air drumming, tracing human silhouettes, leaning into a ribbon-festooned microphone stand as the wind blew her various shawls, capes and wraps: Nicks embodied a magnetic combination of physical energy and mystic mystery. After a threatening version of the serpentining classic “Gold Dust Woman,” she confessed her animated movements represented the struggle to live out the song.

For “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” Nicks invited Joel to step into the role originally occupied by Tom Petty. The duet lacked requisite heat. Joel’s tendency to stare at what appeared to be a TelePrompter scrolling the lyrics snuffed out any potential chemistry. Nicks’ collaboration with her vocal coach, Steve Real, on “Leather and Lace” fared better.

In terms of rock stars overstepping their bounds, one could fault Nicks for imploring people to vote before soon divulging she neglected to cast a ballot for most of her life. Yet given the way she attacked the cautionary “Stand Back” and raised her arm in triumph at its close, you might want to think twice before going after an icon who is having another moment.

Bob Gendron is a freelance critic.

Setlist from Soldier Field June 21:

Stevie Nicks
  • “Outside the Rain”
  • “Dreams” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  • “If Anyone Falls”
  • “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”
  • “Gypsy” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  • “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield cover)
  • “Stand Back”
  • “Bella Donna”
  • “Gold Dust Woman” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  • “Leather and Lace”
  • “Edge of Seventeen”
  • “Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  • “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac cover)

Friday, June 21, 2024

Fleetwood Mac Albums Chart Update Worldwide

 Fleetwood Mac this week on the Album Charts world wide... 

UK Top 100 Albums Chart
11 (10) 50 Years: Don’t Stop
24 (32) Rumours

UK Official Vinyl Albums Chart
8 (14) Rumours

SCOTLAND Official Albums Chart
16 (26) Rumours
67 (Re-entry) Fleetwood Mac

IRELAND Official Albums Chart
10 (9) 50 Years: Don’t Stop
25 (26) Rumours

39 (36) Rumours
174 (181) Greatest Hits

USA Top Album Sales
18 (19) Rumours

USA Best Selling Vinyl Albums
14 (10) Rumours

CANADA Top 100 Albums Chart
37 (33) Rumours

AUSTRALIA Top 50 Albums Chart
30 (31) Rumours

AUSTRIA Top 75 Albums Chart
60 (75) Rumours

BELGIUM Top 200 Albums Chart
173 (133) Greatest Hits
138 (141) Rumours

DUTCH ALBUMS Top 100 Albums Chart
21 (18) Rumours

DUTCH Top 33 Vinyl Albums Chart
16 (16) Rumours

GREECE Top 75 Albums Chart
29 (33) Rumours
67 (Re-Entry) Greatest Hits

SWEDEN Top 60 Albums Chart
46 (50) Rumours

Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Ultimate Music Guide to Fleetwood Mac Available June 21 2024


Uncut Ultimate Music Guide: Definitive Edition - Fleetwood Mac 

The 172-page Definitive Edition Ultimate Music Guide to Fleetwood Mac.

Available 21st June 2024.

There is also a limited edition hardback version of the 172-page Definitive Edition 
Ultimate Music Guide to Fleetwood Mac. Only 250 copies available!

Decades before BeyoncĂ©, Fleetwood Mac were taking relationship lemons, and serving them up to the world as lemonade. Whether it was maintaining continuity against unlikely odds after the departure of their original guiding light Peter Green or turning their personal intrigues into melodic gold with Rumours, the band’s coping strategy became a key marketing point – as the band crested each vicissitude with an outpouring of new songs. 

Still, even a band that doesn’t shy away from motivational affirmations (see: “Don’t Stop!” “On With The Show”) might have to acknowledge that the passing of Christine McVie in 2022 likely spells an end to any subsequent reformations of Fleetwood Mac, a band that created spellbinding music for its reliably enormous audiences for over 50 years. Even Mr Resilient himself, Mick Fleetwood, admits these days it would be “a tall order” to do anything as Fleetwood Mac. “…But stranger things have happened.” 

It’s the band’s incredible legacy that we celebrate in this 172-page definitive edition of our Ultimate Music Guide to Fleetwood Mac. From our curated selection of classic interviews, you can enjoy a vivid inside track on the band’s saga, its key players, and the drama that unfolded around them. As we dive deep into the music, our team of expert writers reveals the evolving Mac sound: from the melancholy blues tones of their earliest triumphs through to the sophisticated pop rock that brought them their greatest successes. In our foldout timeline, we take a – literally – sideways journey through the band’s career.

Fleetwood Mac always fought hard to field a winning team, but there was life for its members outside it and we have taken the opportunity in this edition to dig deeper into the solo careers of its members in reviews and interviews. In 2020, Christine McVie looks back humbly on her achievements and decides she’ll soon be shutting up shop, songs-wise. We review the erratic solo work of Peter Green while Rob Hughes tracks down the close associates who would meet him once a month to jam in his front room. We have tea on Lindsey Buckingham’s patio. 

Excitingly, we also discover a long-lost conversation with Stevie Nicks. She and her dog Shulamith are being driven to a Fleetwood Mac rehearsal, while we sit rather in awe of her candour and insight. It’s a bittersweet conversation to look back on from the viewpoint of 2024. On the one hand, Stevie is out there now playing a well-received solo tour, where she hits her Mac songbook hard. On the other, her tender recollections of Christine McVie’s return to Fleetwood Mac in 2013 only remind us more acutely of her absence now. 

“The second people saw she was coming back, the tickets just sold,” Stevie tells us. “I tell her, Chris, it’s all about you – everyone wants to see you. And we’re thrilled. It’s kinda fun to see it through her eyes…”

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Fleetwood Mac Alternate Live set for July 19, 2024 Re-Release

Fleetwood Mac Alternate Live 
set for re-release July 19, 2024

This special 2LP is back in circulation after a limited release in 2021 for Record Store Day. The fourteen-song album is compiled from the Fleetwood Mac Super Deluxe release, featuring seven tracks from the Tusk tour, four from the 1977 Rumours tour, and three from the 1982 Mirage tour.

Only seeing it on UK Record store websites, not sure of a North American release, so check with your local record store retailer if you're interested. 

Track listing:

  1. Second Hand News*
  2. The Chain **
  3. Think About Me **
  4. What Makes You Think You’re The One **
  5. Gold Dust Woman ***
  6. Brown Eyes *
  7. The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) ***
  8. Angel **
  9. Hold Me *
  10. Tusk **
  11. You Make Loving Fun ***
  12. Sisters Of The Moon **
  13. Songbird **
  14. Blue Letter ***
* Mirage Tour,  ** Tusk Tour,   *** Rumours Tour

Stevie Nicks revealed she is working on new music

Stevie Nicks Working On New Music: “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever written”

Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks reveals to MOJO she’s working on the follow-up to 2011’s In Your Dreams

Speaking exclusively in the new issue of MOJO, Stevie Nicks has revealed she’s working on new music and plans to go into the studio later this summer.

In this exclusive interview with MOJO, Stevie Nicks revealed she is working on new music, her first solo project since 2011’s "In Your Dreams." (24 Karat Gold was released in 2014, technically a solo album, but was filled with previously written material from the past 4 decades). Nicks plans to enter the studio later this summer to record her new material, including a song about women’s rights and another titled "The Vampire’s Wife," which she describes to Mojo as one of the best things she has ever written. This new music comes after Nicks released "Show Them The Way" in 2020 and a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s "For What It’s Worth" in 2022.

Reflecting on the past, Nicks mentioned her emotional last performance with Tom Petty at Hyde Park in 2017, just months before his death. Nicks, who will headline at Hyde Park again in July, noted that tributes to Petty and Christine McVie are now a significant part of her sets. McVie’s passing in 2022 has profoundly impacted Nicks, who stated that it has effectively ended any possibility of a Fleetwood Mac reunion. Without McVie, Nicks believes the band could not function as it did before.

Nicks also touched on her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, citing his health issues and the demanding nature of Fleetwood Mac tours as barriers to a potential reunion. Buckingham’s place in the band's last tour was filled by Mike Campbell and Neil Finn, with Finn expressing his surprise at being invited to join the band. Finn, who has since returned to Crowded House, supports Nicks' view that Fleetwood Mac is not currently active.

While Stevie Nicks is moving forward with new solo music, the legacy of Fleetwood Mac seems to be in the past, deeply influenced by the loss of Christine McVie and the challenges faced by its members.

Stevie Nicks Reschedules Hershey, PA Date to Sept 28, 2024


The new date for Hershey, PA that was initially intended to take place June 15th will now take place on September 28th. All prior ticket purchases will be honored.