In Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie appears as the stable Earth-bound performer balanced against Stevie Nicks’ wild flights of fancy and unfocused demeanor. The rock vs. the roll.
McVie’s balancing number is more than just an act. She is a solid performer on her own as well, as her quiet take-control attitude indicated last night at the Fox Theater.
The sparse, sedate crowd seemed to have the same quiet respect for McVie’s work as did the performer herself. The applause was frequent but controlled, and when McVie performed some of her early ’70s music, the loyal fans sighed in remembrance.
“Say You Love Me” opened the set without much fanfare. McVie played keyboards and other than a few hellos and intros to the songs was silent and determined as she switched from old tunes to songs from her latest album.
Fleetwood Mac brought her to prominence and McVie was wise enough to know the crowd wanted to hear the Mac hits. Once the audience became receptive she launched into some of the songs off her solo album.
The Christine McVie album has the talents of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood contributing vocals and instruments.
“Ask Anybody,” co-written with Winwood, was well-received as was the slightly countrified “So Excited.” Both songs were flavored a little differently than the standard McVie love ballads.
It is the sameness of her songs that is McVie’s short suit. Almost all the tunes are about love — happy love — and most have the familiar Mick Fleetwood drum emphasis.
Steve Ferrone plays drums on her album and on tour. The surprising difference is that on the album the beat becomes monotonous. Last night, his drumming gave a tougher rock sound to many of McVie’s numbers.
Guitarist Todd Sharp was a vital toehold for McVie, saving many numbers from degenerating into bland white-bread rock ‘n’ roll.
Sharp co-wrote several songs on the Christine McVie album and his guitar playing adds a much-needed bite to the music.
This was not a hard-rocking type of concert, yet McVie conveys a tougher image than her soft ballads would suggest. One of her classics, “Spare Me A Little,” proved a powerfully tight song that received spontaneous applause.
However, a new, mellow love tune, “Your Smile is All I Live For,” fell flat. Even Sharp’s guitar bridge on this song was trite and one-dimensional.
Though McVie’s writing tends to fall into the top-40 genre, she brings a living fire and zest to her performance that is missing from her albums.
Ehrenfeld is a free-lance writer.
Marlee J. Ehrenfeld / San Diego Union-Tribune (CA) / April 17, 1984