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Home » REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac is back, Christine McVie sings again as the tour starts anew

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac is back, Christine McVie sings again as the tour starts anew

Though Stevie Nicks and the band are older, they opened their first reunited show in 16 years with the hallmark brilliance for playing off each others’ strengths

* * * * (4 out of 5 stars)

The key selling point for Fleetwood Mac’s On With The Show tour, which opened on Tuesday at Minneapolis’s Target Center, is that it’s the first in 16 years to include keyboardist and singer-songwriter Christine McVie, lately relieved of her fear of flying and sprung from her doggy English countryside redoubt.

All of the band’s members except taciturn bassist John McVie, Christine’s ex-husband, paid vocal tribute to her over the course of a spirited two-and-half-hour set. “Our songbird has returned,” said drummer Mick Fleetwood during an extended encore.

McVie’s comeback restores the enduring and protean group’s flagship configuration, whose mid- to late-70s albums entered roughly as many homes as the products of, let’s say, General Electric. The band is currently at work on its first studio album since the 80s, and, you know, it might be pretty good.

They opened with The Chain, a collaboratively composed document of the group’s internecine romantic alliances and disunions that doubles as a unity anthem.

Lindsey Buckingham, wearing heroically tight Levi’s, led the song and established early on that he’d be the evening’s dynamo. As on Side Two of Rumours, “You Make Loving Fun” followed, with McVie drawing loud applause when she purred the opening lines, “Sweeeet wonderful you.”

Sixteen mostly retired years is a long time to get rusty, but the 71-year-old McVie was in excellent form, her keyboard playing gently rumbling or subtly expressive, her singing graceful. Unlike her two front-of-stage colleagues, McVie isn’t an apparent eccentric or egoist, but rather an understated craftsperson of plaintive easy listening and English soul. The group worked in many of her signature songs, including “Over My Head,” “Little Lies,” “Say You Love Me” and a moving closing number, on which more later.

With McVie’s keyboard resettled next to Stevie Nicks’s scarf-draped mic stand, Fleetwood Mac can once more pass the Bechdel test. The group’s gender parity wasn’t unprecedented, but their music was and is unusually dialogic – women and men trading perspectives on lust and longing, volleying tributes to old Welsh witches and beleaguered Beach Boys. It was great, and crucial, to have her back.

Nicks, the group’s most distinctive vocalist and most famous personality, took a while to reach maybe 85%. Even children get older, Nicks once reminded us, and her sandpaper contralto isn’t as reliable as it once was.

Owing either to first-night caution or diminished range, Nicks – on “Gypsy,” “Dreams,” and her traditional showstopper, “Rhiannon” – backed away from vocal climaxes and generally refashioned her melodies toward compression. Sometimes this led to some interesting jazzy or Dylanesque variations; other times the songs sounded bleary and depleted. She did find her feet, though, giving a sensitive reading of the invincible “Landslide,” and offering a cool vocal improv and a mystical interpretive dance for “Gold Dust Woman.”

There’s no reason to doubt that Fleetwood Mac’s sobriety is secure across the board, but Buckingham was certainly hopped up, stomping and whopping and prowling the stage, letting front-row disciples touch the neck of his guitar, breaking into a maniacal laugh to jump-start “Tusk,” the titular hit from the double album on which his genius act was at its most fastidious and convincing. “Tusk” was menacing and spot-on, notwithstanding piped-in horns from the USC Trojans (as if the University of Minnesota’s perfectly capable marching band had another commitment!).

Like Nicks, Buckingham’s a pro at shading the lines between idiosyncratic brilliance and loopy kitsch, and certain passages of intensely breathy emoting or orgasmic lead guitar moved definitively into the latter territory. Mostly, though, he was seriously impressive: his dexterous finger-picking, his fine-toned leads, his impassioned singing, his cool Garfunkel hair. And though he never soft-sold his own songs, he was smartly supportive when McVie or Nicks were in charge.

The group was augmented by a shadow quintet composed of a percussionist, two utility player-harmonists, and two 20-feet-from-stardom singers. High harmonies were in place, then, even if the principals couldn’t access them, and the sound was lush throughout. As usual with the band, there were also stripped-down sections with Buckingham working alone or with one other member, and at one point Fleetwood left his main drum kit (about the size of a Buick LeSabre) for a more modestly scaled kit set up in front.

The finest of these quieter interludes was saved for last, when, following a tender run through Nicks’s “Silver Springs,” the crew wheeled out a baby grand. McVie sat down for an expressive version of “Songbird” with Buckingham providing a spare solo. Those philistines who trotted out during McVie’s pounding “Don’t Stop” solo may have escaped the parking ramps a half hour before the rest of us; but their lives are exponentially poorer for it.

There were two closing speeches in tribute to McVie and the band’s new wholeness: one from Nicks, who said she would have bet every cent that McVie would never come back, and a final one from Fleetwood, who urged kindness in a troubled world, then stepped to the mic for one last, bellowed message: “And remember for sure, the Mac is back!”

Dylan Hicks / The Guardian (UK) / Wednesday, October 1, 2014


LIVE IN CONCERT (2023-2024)

Billy Joel and Stevie NicksStevie Nicks

FEB 10, 2024
Mark G Etess Arena
Atlantic City, NJ

FEB 14, 2024
UBS Arena
Belmont Park, NY

FEB 17, 2024
CFG Bank Arena
Baltimore, MD

FEB 21, 2024
Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Greenville, SC

FEB 24, 2024
Hard Rock Live
Hollywood, FL

FEB 28, 2024
Smoothie King Center
New Orleans, LA

MAR 3, 2024
CHI Health Center
Omaha, NE

MAR 6, 2024
Simmons Bank Arena
North Little Rock, AR

MAR 9, 2024
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, TX
Billy Joel

MAY 3, 2024 – MAY 5, 2024
Lovin’ Life Fest
Charlotte, NC

MAY 7, 2024
Enterprise Center
St Louis, MO

MAY 10, 2024
WinStar World Casino & Resort
Thackerville, OK

MAY 14, 2024
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, TN

MAY 18, 2024
Frost Bank Center
San Antonio, TX

MAY 21, 2024
Yaamava’ Resort & Casino – Yaamava’ Theater
Highland, CA

MAY 24, 2024
BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa, CA

MAY 27, 2024
Delta Center
Salt Lake City, UT

MAY 30, 2024
Ball Arena
Denver, CO

Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, IN

JUN 9 
Mohegan Sun Casino
Uncasville, CT

JUN 12
MVP Arena
Albany, NY

JUN 15 
Hersheypark Stadium
Hershey, PA

JUN 18
Van Andel Arena
Grand Rapids, MI

JUN 21, 2024
Soldier Field
Chicago, IL

JUL 12, 2024
BST Hyde Park
London, England

Two Icons One Night presented by Live Nation
^ Non-Live Nation show

Previous 2023 dates

March 10, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Los Angeles, CA
SoFi Stadium

March 15, 2023
Seattle, WA
Climate Pledge Arena

March 18, 2023
Las Vegas, NV
T-Mobile Arena

May 12, 2023
Raleigh, NC
PNC Arena

May 16, 2023
Knoxville, TN
Thompson-Boling Arena

May 19, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Nashville, TN
Nissan Stadium

May 22, 2023
Atlanta, GA
State Farm Arena

May 25, 2023
Orlando, FL
Amway Center

June 16, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Philadelphia, PA
Lincoln Financial Field

June 20, 2023
Toronto, ON (Canada)
Scotiabank Arena

June 23, 2023
Chicago, IL
United Center

June 27, 2023
Louisville, KY
KFC Yum! Center

August 5, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Columbus, OH
Ohio Stadium

August 8, 2023
Milwaukee, WI
Fiserv Forum

August 12, 2023
Houston, TX
Toyota Center

August 15, 2023
Austin, TX
Moody Center

August 19, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Kansas City, MO
Arrowhead Stadium

September 23, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Foxborough, MA
Gillette Stadium

September 27, 2023
Pittsburgh, PA
PPG Paints Arena

October 1, 2023
New York, NY
Madison Square Garden

October 4, 2023
Buffalo, NY
KeyBank Center

October 7, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Baltimore, MD 
M&T Bank Stadium

October 28, 2023
Memphis, TN
FedEx Forum

November 1, 2023
Savannah, GA
Enmarket Arena

November 4, 2023
Allentown, PA
PPL Center

November 7, 2023
Detroit, MI
Little Caesars Arena

November 10, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Minneapolis, MN
U.S. Bank Stadium

November 29, 2023
San Diego, CA
Viejas Arena

December 2, 2023
Inglewood, CA
The Kia Forum

December 5, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Acisure Arena

December  8, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Phoenix, AZ
Chase Field

December 12, 2023
Sacramento, CA
Golden 1 Center

December 15, 2023
San Francisco, CA
Chase Center

2022 Tour

Stevie Nicks

Jazz Aspen Snowmass
Snowmass, CO
Labor Day 2022

Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
September 8, 2022
September 10, 2022

Pine Knob Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI
September 13, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sea Hear Now Festival
Asbury, NJ
September 17, 2022

Xfinity Center
Mansfield, MA
September 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Maine Savings Amphitheatre
Bangor, ME
September 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sound on Sound Festival
Bridgeport, CT
September 24-25, 2022

Ohana Festival
Dana Point, CA
September 30, 2022

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, CA
October 3, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ak-Chin Pavilion

Phoenix, AZ
October 6, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

The Woodlands, TX
October 9, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
Alpharetta, GA
October 12, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ascend Amphitheater
Nashville, TN
October 16, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Credit One Stadium
Charleston, SC
October 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

PNC Music Pavilion
Charlotte, NC
October 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
October 25, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
West Palm Beach, FL
October 28, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Orion Amphitheatre
Huntsville, AL
October 31, 2022


Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The Woodlands, TX
November 2, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ak-Chin Pavilion
Phoenix, AZ
November 5, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton