Home » CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac show is powered by hits and rarities

CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac show is powered by hits and rarities

By Scott Mervis
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 26, 2013

Fleetwood Mac obviously has some issues playing nice with each other in a studio, as its last release was a decade ago and there have been a combined four solo albums from its dynamic duo up front since then.

On stage, though, FM still has the golden touch.

The band, which started as a British blues outfit in 1967 but practically defined mid-’70s pop-rock, turned up at Consol Energy Center tonight three weeks into its first tour since 2009. Once again, it’s a foursome with a few sidemen and backup singers, as Christine McVie, out of the picture since 1998, has chosen to steer clear, taking with her the earthy harmonies and such hits as “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me” and “You Make Loving Fun.”

They were missed, as usual, but even without that, Fleetwood Mac has no shortage of beloved classics. The hit parade started energetically with a galloping beat from the ageless Mick Fleetwood launching Lindsey Buckingham into “Second Hand News” (a sly, self-deprecating statement?), joined on the chorus by his former flame Stevie Nicks, still striking at 64.

Mr. Buckingham isn’t often mentioned with rock’s guitar heroes, clearly an oversight if you’ve seen him live. Those heroics started in earnest on the second song, “The Chain,” with its tense riffage and piercing solo going over top John McVie’s rumbling bass.

Ms. Nicks remains a vocal enigma, as there’s no one way to describe her instrument, other than expressive. It’s still nasal and husky ranging somehow to clear and girlish, as we heard on “Dreams” and a powerful “Rhiannon.” As you’d expect, she runs around the occasional high note.

There’s no new album to freshen the set — or perhaps get in the way of a casual Mac fan’s good time — but there is a promised EP on the way.

They teased it with “Sad Angel,” a vintage-sounding Buckingham-Nicks collab that was more up-tempo than the title suggests.

The band’s other creative twist on this tour is its four-song mini-set from Tusk, the 1979 curveball that Mr. Buckingham described as “a line in the sand” creatively for the band. It included the cacophonous title track (with the USC marching band on the screen) and the lovely “Sara,” during which Mr. Fleetwood sounded more like competition. They also added Mr. Buckingham’s quasi-punk freakout “Not That Funny” and Ms. Nicks’ bewitching “Sisters of the Moon,” which sounded a little chaotic, too.

They also revived the long-lost Buckingham Nicks song “Without You,” which could have stayed lost, and offered a few old deep cuts: rumbling rocker “Eyes of the World” and “I’m So Afraid,” with a killer guitar jam that explored the high end of the neck to the furthest extreme.

The stripped-down mid-section, one of the best parts if the night, brought Mr. Buckingham’s frantic acoustic workout on “Big Love,” a dramatic, finger-picked “Never Going Back Again” and a beautiful “Landslide” with the emphatic and always warmly received line, “I’m getting older, too.”

Even more well received was Ms. Nicks’ shawl dance at the end of a “Gold Dust Woman” that toed the line in the sand between plodding and mesmerizing.

For the closers, they tapped the Nicks solo catalog for a hard-driving “Stand Back,” with the singer spinning in circles, followed by one of rock’s best fist-pumping breakup anthems, “Go Your Own Way,” ecstatically played.

The encores started with a pummeling “World Turning” and “Don’t Stop,” the one Christine McVie song they can’t skip, and ended with a gentle “Say Goodbye” ??? that’s only goodbye for now.

“You’d think there’d be nothing left to invent,” Mr. Buckingham said at one point, “but there apparently are some new chapters to be written for Fleetwood Mac.”
With a 50th anniversary on the way — at least for the band name and esteemed, cranked-up rhythm section — they can’t very well stop now.

Set list

“Second Hand News”
“The Chain”
“Dreams”
“Sad Angel”
“Rhiannon”
“Not That Funny”
“Tusk”
“Sisters of the Moon”
“Sara”
“Big Love”
“Landslide”
“Never Going Back Again”
“Without You”
“Gypsy”
“Eyes of the World”
“Gold Dust Woman”
“I’m So Afraid”
“Stand Back”
“Go Your Own Way”
Encore:
“World Turning”
“Don’t Stop”
“Say Goodbye”

Scott Mervis: sm*****@po**********.com; 412-263-2576.

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