By Mike Bell / Calgary Herald
Fleetwood Mac Performed Friday night at the Saddledome.
There are few perfections in life.
Even the idea of life, itself. And, when you find something that meets that goal, that is that faultless thing, you remember it and you wish it to remain so.
Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 release Rumours is that rarity, an album that has no cracks, no errors, no glitches, no do-overs, no lows, no songs to skip, no regrets, no anything that you wish could be anything more than it is.
It marries blues and rock and pop and folk in a way that nothing had or has since, and it was the high-water mark of an eclectic four-decade-plus career.
It is perfect. Even now, even 36 years after its release, it is a classic rock record that actually is classic, not just some fossilized memory of those who were there when it was new, but something that stands up with and above that which has come in its wake.
It’s timeless, it lives, it breathes. And it, for most, stands as the thing by which they will forever be judged.
Which is why Friday night’s Saddledome show by the band was as dramatically disappointing as it was. A sort-of 35th anniversary celebration of that release – albeit with other songs from their post-blues period – the two-and-a-half-hour show didn’t live, it didn’t breathe, it wasn’t anything that seemed remotely of the moment.
It was stagnant, it was disinterested and it was weak.
Save for the odd moment, the odd great guitar solo or gruff vocal part, there was no vibrancy to the evening, just the equivalent of a plastic-covered couch that’s managed to keep the dust away but seems only overly familiar and smells old and stale.
Kicking off with a trio of Rumours tunes – “Second Hand News,” “The Chain” and “Dreams” – the Christine McVieless core (and, yes, she is sorely missed) of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie along with their touring band showed that they weren’t interested in doing anything other than pandering to those memories and in the laziest of ways.
There was no energy, there was no magic, there was no real stage show.
There was just Fleetwood Mac as a museum piece and nothing that made that history come to life.
Yes, Buckingham, on guitar, had an inspired moment or two – during that first song and a great solo take on “Big Love” – but he was alone in doing anything of note and not that interesting in the grander scheme of things.
Nicks certainly wasn’t the vibrant, flaky, hippie Gypsy lady of days gone by. Her voice familiar, but when it wasn’t buried in the mix, was only a shadow of what it once was – as a half-hearted “Landslide” and a remarkably tepid version of her solo song “Stand Back” revealed – and her stage presence that was neither the expected sexy nor even seemingly remotely interested,
If you’d ever seen her perform before, alone or with Mac, you’d have been left wondering whether or not she even wanted to be there or was merely punching a clock because this was where she felt comfortable.
And even drummer Fleetwood, in previous shows a fun and energetic ham who was more than happy to step up and take the spotlight that his name and talents afforded him, was little more than a bit player – his by-the-books encore solo only underscored that – albeit in a show in which there were no stars.
So the night, instead, relied on the tried and true plot, content to rarely if at all diverge from the recorded reminiscence of those songs, and when it did, it certainly didn’t improve upon them.
Take another solo Buckingham on the glorious “Never Going Back Again,” which was little more than a pub performance that made you wonder if a dreary, Guinness-soaked, drunken shouted cover of American Pie was next.
Even a version of “Tusk” – one of the most underrated, upbeat and adrenalized pop songs the world has ever known – was a flaccid, cheerleader-less take on that great tune, and made you only want to go back to the original.
Just like “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop,” perhaps two of Rumours‘ most perfect of perfect moments, here, this night, late into the set reduced to singalongs for singalong’s sake, and even then one you’d want to mouth with a vague semblance of enthusiasm.
Just like every other moment of the long, regrettable evening.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is classic, it is timeless, it is perfect.
Three decades later, Fleetwood Mac, Friday night at the Saddle-dome, were old, worn and what once was.
That’s life, I guess.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald