Go Their Own Way
Return of the Mac - another crazy episode in the
longest-running soap opera in rock'n'roll.
Earl's Court, London
Wednesday December 10, 2003
There's a hip young gunslinger of Uncut's acquaintance in the
audience tonight who normally writes about futuristic electronic
dance music for a well-known weekly music paper. And he is so moved
by this performance by Fleetwood Mac, not just a guilty pleasure but
his all-time favourite pop group, that he's
in tears, with the lowing sounds that accompany proper sobbing.
Fleetwood Mac have the strangest effect on the least likely people.
They're MOR with edge. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who
turned the drama of their disintegrating relationship into one of
the best-selling albums ever made (1977's Rumours), are that edge.
They flaunt it tonight. Buckingham and Nicks, the Meg and Jack White
of dreamy, druggy '70s adult soft rock, act like this is the
epilogue to the longest-running soap opera in rock'n'roll. He kisses
her hand. They hug. They slow dance. They sing "Say Goodbye", one of
the two valedictory ballads that climax the recent Say You Will
comeback set, not to the crowd but to each other as if to apologise,
right there, in front of several thousand forty-somethings in
sensible knitwear, for hurting each other in the name of love. Then
- and Uncut nutss you not - during faster number "What's The World
Coming To" Stevie plays the bull to Lindsey's matador and, hunched
forward, charges across the stage at his invisible cape with her
index fingers poking above her head as horns. There is no weirder
group in mainstream rock.
And this is odd music for a stadium. Buckingham, pop's most handsome
studio nerd, takes center stage for a thrilling version of "big
Love" that is vaguely like a speeded-up madigral, with amazing
guttural expulsions at the end. Nicks classics such as "Rhiannon"
and "Gypsy Woman" [sic!], meanwhile, feature fantastic imagery more
suited to a rainswept beach at midnight, or a hippie-chick's
candlelit boudoir. Stevie's voice hasn't aged, but then she always
did sound world weary. The still sexy couple duet for "Beautiful
Child", like Gram and Emmylou with a pop sheen.
Lindsey diffidently introduces two songs from the entirely
Buckingham/Nicks-penned Say You Will, but it won't be long before
their latest and greatest work achieves the recognition it deserves.
The fact that it wasn't persuasively marketed on giant billboards
across the globe as RUMOURS II: THIS TIME IT'S CATHARTIC represents
something of a missed opportunity on the part of the record company.
The blistering "Come", with Buckingham, a much-underrated guitarist,
soloing ferociously like Neil Young in Warren Beatty's body, and the
breathtakingly adventurous "Everybody Finds Out", should be
soundtracking the lives of millions of teenagers who bought Rumours,
all grown up now with ruinous affairs and catastrophic marriages
Never mind, because here comes big Mick Fleetwood - the safe base
around whom Stevie and Lindsey whirr madly - lurching towards the
front of the stage with synthesizer pads attached to his waistcoat
like the percussive equivalent of a suicide bomber. Only instead of
blowing himself up, he's going to entertain us with a riot of drum
samples. Suddenly he goes all bug-eyed and starts blurting in
tongues like some Massai warrior - or something you'd cross the
street to avoid at the Edinburgh festival - and, quite unexpectedly,
the B&Q brigade roar their approval. Weird band, strange fans, crazy
Thanks to trackaghost for the scans and the text