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The return of Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac, complete with returning member Christine McVie, are on tour and head to Leeds next week. Andy Threlfall reports

It’s been 15 years since Cumbrian-born Christine McVie retired from Fleetwood Mac, but now she is back, completing the classic Rumours-era line-up of the band on the current tour.

“I didn’t really know exactly what Christine McVie was up to in those missing years,” says a sprightly 65-year-old Lindsey Buckingham. “She pretty much took permanent leave of the performing world and moved back to England and lived somewhere out in the country.”

But now she’s back and that has meant the band’s live show is receiving unparalleled critical plaudits reinvigorated as it is by classics like You Make Loving Fun, Everywhere and Songbird (which closed the London 02 show I witnessed) penned and sung by Christine who turns 72 next month.

For a band famed for its musical chemistry and fabled failed relationships, to close it’s homecoming show with just one (the returning) member at the piano was startling. Art at its most naked. Stripped bare. The song. The voice.

Whichever way you want to decipher this moment after two and a half hours, the sheer brilliance remains intact of this band who can select a 25-song setlist matched only in gargantuan sales figures and magnificence by fellow Brits who still dominate American radio the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin & The Beatles.

If the return of McVie had been one cause for celebration, that of ex-husband John to the current tour is even more poignant. He very nearly didn’t make it.

As Stevie Nicks told me during our meeting near her Malibu home last year: “John was very ill so we had to come off the road. But he did what he had to do. He went back to his home in Hawaii and he dealt with it. He is an incredible man.”

So the circle is complete again. The battles are never completely resolved in Fleetwood Mac, the scars are deep and often on the surface, but the result is a catalogue of songs so magnificent there is an insatiable appetite to hear them live by this incarnation, the five who made the 40 million seller Rumours.

The world tour has sold out in record time. When Adele met Nicks an hour before they took to the stage at the 02, she proclaimed it, without any sense of hyperbole “THE best night of my life. I love you Stevie Nicks!! The queen of melodies! Thanks for everything.”

Beyonce and Taylor Swift namecheck her as the greatest influence on their singing and songwriting. Leeds is getting a double helping with the band playing two dates at Leeds Arena. Pinch yourself Yorkshire.

Stevie is sanguine when we discuss life, love, Lindsey, near-death and music. “My Dad became the chairman of Canadian Labatts beer, so it was always like there was was alcohol around!”

She laughs at the thought. And what of Lindsey? Who was her then boyfriend in 1975 when he insisted to Mick Fleetwood “If I join your band, my girlfriend must join as well,” the masterstroke that resulted in this seminal rock band.

“I live just 10 minutes from Lindsey now. It is what it is between Lindsey and I – a love affair, not reciprocated as it once was of course – but yes it still happens for us whenever we meet. It still feels a little like the undying love affair, although he’s now a family man of course. He has three teenage kids.

“We talk on the phone, but we don’t hang out like I do especially with Mick and his family who are exactly like ‘Meet The Fockers’ except it’s ‘Meet The Fleetwoods’. I always go to his and we watch the Grammys together or The Oscars. I was sure we would always get back together every few years to play these amazing songs again.”

But is she sometimes amazed that she survived the drugs? “I can’t believe that I’m actually alive it’s true. A plastic surgeon told me that if I took one more line of cocaine I would soon have a brain haemorrhage. Actually he told me that I could really drop dead someday.

“So I stopped. I feel healthier than I’ve felt in 30 years because I’m sober, I don’t really drink any more and I don’t do drugs. I was not in good shape for many, many years. I am very, very blessed to still be here.

“Prescription drug abuse nearly killed me as much as the cocaine. I’m pretty sure that after eight years on that stuff that if I’d not checked myself in to hospital for 47 days I would be dead. Absolutely. I would not be here today. I knew that I was on my way out.”

Do you feel like the poster girl for surviving the 70s and 80s rock and roll excesses I ask her. “Yes, a little. Do I feel like 
the godmother to Britney, Lindsay Lohan, etc? Yes. But when I look at Britney Spears or a Lindsay Lohan I do think they should have learnt from my generation of rock stars… 
but nobody ever does. I should have learnt myself from people like Hendrix and Joplin but I didn’t. I don’t think anyone can tell a drug addict to stop.”

“It’s ironic,” I say, “You sing “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow…”

“I know.” She stops. A tear? Maybe.

Buckingham has stated this tour could well be it. The last one with such a line-up in its current incarnation. But new songs are now written, and an album might follow.

However, as the penultimate English date on the world tour, followed by Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, the Leeds Arena show in July might well be the last time one of the five or six biggest bands of the last 40 years plays in the North of England. Keep your ticket stub and frame it.

Fleetwood Mac are currently on a world tour. They will be playing at Leeds Arena on June 30 and July 5. www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Andy Threlfall / Yorkshire Post / Monday, June 29, 2015

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LIVE IN CONCERT (2023-2024)

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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
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MAR 3, 2024
CHI Health Center
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Simmons Bank Arena
North Little Rock, AR
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Arlington, TX
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MAY 3, 2024 – MAY 5, 2024
Lovin’ Life Fest
Charlotte, NC
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MAY 7, 2024
Enterprise Center
St Louis, MO
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MAY 10, 2024
WinStar World Casino & Resort
Thackerville, OK
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MAY 14, 2024
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, TN
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MAY 18, 2024
Frost Bank Center
San Antonio, TX
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MAY 21, 2024
Yaamava’ Resort & Casino – Yaamava’ Theater
Highland, CA
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MAY 24, 2024
BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa, CA
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MAY 27, 2024
Delta Center
Salt Lake City, UT
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MAY 30, 2024
Ball Arena
Denver, CO
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Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, IN
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Mohegan Sun Casino
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Previous 2023 dates

March 10, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
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SoFi Stadium

March 15, 2023
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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
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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
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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

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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
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Minneapolis, MN
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November 29, 2023
San Diego, CA
Viejas Arena

December 2, 2023
Inglewood, CA
The Kia Forum

December 5, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
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Chase Field

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Sacramento, CA
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December 15, 2023
San Francisco, CA
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2022 Tour

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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

POSTPONED
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Phoenix, AZ
October 6, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

POSTPONED
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
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PNC Music Pavilion
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October 22, 2022
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MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
October 25, 2022
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iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
West Palm Beach, FL
October 28, 2022
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Orion Amphitheatre
Huntsville, AL
October 31, 2022

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

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