March 3, 2009
Fleetwood Mac still rockin' after all these years
Stevie Nicks is back ... with a little help from her friends
Monday, March 02, 2009
In the 1970s when you were listening to "Rhiannon" and "Dreams," you may have given a passing thought to the concept of Stevie Nicks at 60.
Now we've hit the point where we don't have to imagine anymore.
We saw her last night at the Mellon Arena on the opening show of the Unleashed tour, and we can testify that she's still the golden-haired diva, still mysterious, still bewitching, still beautiful as she sings those haunting love songs.
Fleetwood Mac Set List
Her partner in crime since they were teenagers, Lindsey Buckingham, is on the brink of 60, at 59, and he's, well, he's going to be an intense dude up until the day he kicks.
The former lovers came out holding hands and then went off to their positions to dazzle with the promised greatest hits show, plus some surprises from the back catalogue, like the seldom played "Storms."
Buckingham made early mention of the band's "complex and convoluted emotional history," saying that every time they come back together "it's always different." He added that they "had a ball" during their days of rehearsal at the arena, and the evidence was on stage.
A nod to their fresh start was "Monday Morning," an unexpected opener, as it was never a staple of the "Say You Will" tour five years ago. It wasn't until the second song, "The Chain," that we got that first taste of the magical Buckingham-Nicks harmonies, two voices that were born for each other.
Nicks always had an unusual voice, husky yet delicate, strong yet vulnerable. Early in the set, on "Dreams," she clung more to the lower register, backing away from the mike on the high notes. As the set picked up energy, so did she, pouring more of herself into "Sara" and "Landslide," with that poignant little line: "I'm getting older, too." On "Gold Dust Woman," she unleashed a long, lovely wail, before turning her back to the crowd and spreading her golden shawl like wings as the song and the lights slowly faded.
Buckingham, by contrast, is a pure live wire. People who have never seen Fleetwood Mac might not know that if he hadn't ended up in this boy-girl pop band, his name now might be thrown around with guitar heroes like Neil Young and Eric Clapton. Buckingham can rip in numerous ways, from the blistering acoustic fingerpicking on "Big Love" to the nitro shredding on "I'm So Afraid," which, contrary to the image of the 50-something ballad-loving Fleetwood Mac fan, drew the biggest roar of the night.
With Nicks offstage to change shawls, or something like that, Mac reverted back to its early blues-rock form for "Oh Well," with Buckingham excitedly playing Peter Green's scorching riff. You need a good drummer for all of this and at 61, Mick Fleetwood is still beating the hell out of the skins without losing any of his pace. John McVie blends into the background with the two side musicians and three backup singers, but manages to keep up with the fiery Fleetwood and Buckingham, even on "Tusk," which had the USC marching band channeled through the keyboard player.
They churned like a powerful New Wave machine on "Stand Back," with Nicks delivering one her most edgy, teeth-clenched vocals. Then, she donned the top hat for "Go Your Own Way," complete with Buckingham playing the note-perfect solo before beating the guitar with his fists.
They encored with "World Turning," the motivational sing-along "Don't Stop" and the tender "Silver Springs," sending fans home happy that not only is the Mac back, but still in fine fighting form.
First published on March 2, 2009 at 12:00 am