March 3, 2015
Tuesday night marked, according to Stevie Nicks, the sixtieth show on this string of dates for Fleetwood Mac. It’s a hell of a run. It’s even the second time they’ve hit Houston’s Toyota Center. How do they maintain the fire? Even 60 shows in, they are just as energetic, just as vital, and just as masterful as ever.
Nicks’ comment was actually in reference to the fact that she had been welcoming back keyboardist and singer Christine McVie after a 16-year hiatus from the band for 60 shows, and that it was a bit redundant at this point. Put simply, she’s back. The same could be said for the entire band.
It’s not just that this is their second appearance in Houston in a matter of months. This, as the band stated repeatedly throughout the show, is a new chapter for them. It’s the return of the band to their place as a relevant, vital entity in the world of pop music.
After so many years of being largely dormant, there are finally plans in the works for a new album, and with their renewed influence in the world of pop and indie-rock, it is a new lease on life for their career.
That being said, you would never know it from the brilliant set list, a career-spanning overview of their most famous work from 1975’s Fleetwood Mac to 1987’s Tango In the Night. Just don’t go in hoping for a taste of new material. Fleetwood Mac knows where their bread is buttered, and they leave any murmurings of even their 2013 EP off the table.
This shouldn’t be a problem for most. The fact is that Fleetwood Mac has more fans in their twenties now, myself included, than they’ve probably netted since their late-’70s heyday. Most of us haven’t had a chance to see them before, so it’s well worth our time and money to see them play a greatest hits set like this, especially when a band is this passionate about their hits.
After 60 shows you might start to wonder if Lindsey Buckingham gets bored during the extended guitar solo outro of “I’m So Afraid,” or if Stevie Nicks just wants to get yet another performance of “Landslide” over with. Any thoughts like that were immediately quelled last night.
Fleetwood Mac’s members are all over sixty now and have been doing this longer than many of us have been alive, yet Buckingham and Nicks were as animated and fired up as ever. During “I’m So Afraid,” Buckingham was literally leaping up and down during his solo. Rather than dreading having to play this song again, it seems he relishes each and every opportunity to trot it out.
Nicks similarly gave impassioned renditions of songs like “Gypsy” and “Gold Dust Woman.” The songs filled her with the same life as they seemed to so many years ago. Even telling the same story to introduce “Gypsy” night after night, she still seems to find something new in it that drives her.
Meanwhile, McVie’s return to the band has reopened a whole other world for the band. No longer must they skip over the hits she sang. That meant we were treated to songs like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Little Lies,” massive tracks which Fleetwood Mac had been unfortunately lacking for so long.
It was a triumphant return to those songs for them, as they not only are recapturing the public eye; they are recapturing themselves. For the first time in many years, Voltron is whole again.
Being the consummate professionals they are (as well as brilliantly talented musicians), they put on a show that is almost impossible to find fault with. That they ended out on a downer ballad like “Songbird” instead of the rollicking “Don’t Stop” is a minor quibble. The only fault I could find is in the fact that the Mac played this exact same show, right down to the stories between the songs, in Houston back in December.
For fans who paid to see both, it might be frustrating to see a repeat so soon after the last one. In this case, however, it might be more a matter of “so nice, you had to say it twice.” The flawless show of master musicianship that Fleetwood Mac displays will never get old, even if every show they play for the rest of their lives consists solely of this exact same setlist.
If nothing else, this tour is proof once again that Fleetwood Mac have crafted enough quality music to last them a lifetime. Yet, they are still restless. They are still moving forward; still creating; still forging new chapters. That the book never ends for them is remarkable even to themselves, something they commented on throughout the show.
While that is something that is nothing but a joy to witness for us, perhaps the greatest joy to be found in their show is the love. After all the years, all the breakups, all the divorces, and all the bitter spats played out in their music and the media, Fleetwood Mac are finally whole again and filled with love. It was evident in the performance and in the glances and touches exchanged between the members of the band.
With McVie back in the fold, they are once again the unstoppable force, united for a common goal. And for maybe the first time, they’re enjoying themselves doing it. It’s a joy and a love that spread to all of us in the audience, and that’s the true pleasure of seeing this band perform.
Personal Bias: Inundated with the band since I was a small child, but only relatively recently gave thought to how wonderful the group is as songwriters and musicians.
The Crowd: Lots of older people, of course, but a very decent amount of young fans. More than a few witches.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Lindsey still rocks the skinny jeans. That’s going to be me at 65 too.”
Random Notebook Dump: Like I said, Fleetwood Mac knows where their bread is buttered. Nicks thanked American Horror Story during the show.
Corey Deiterman / Houston Press / Wednesday, March 4, 2015