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Big Mac with Cheese

Fleetwood Mac
Earls Court, London

Classic Rock Magazine
February 2004
Paul Henderson


With the 'Rumours' line-up back together, Fleetwood Mac present some classic songs with an oversized dollop slickness.

Fleetwood Mac were the best, most visceral blues band in Britain when guitarist Peter Green was in the driving seat in the 60s. From such elevated beginnings they evolved - via trips down some stylistically suspect B-roads and off-ramps- into the heady, folky, fragmented 'Rumours' band of the the mid-70s, and the slick, big-haired days of 'Tango In The Night' in the late 80s. Via videos on Top Of The Pops and MTV they became a huge, massive-selling, globe-trotting AOR juggernaut. They've endured a raft of potentially destructive personnel changes, an infamously voracious consumption of mountains of cocaine, and enough intra-band relationships, affairs, break-ups and make-ups to fuel a television soap opera script for years.

Having eventually imploded/splintered/run out of steam/gone off the rails (choose your option), they regrouped in 1997 on the back of Don't Stop' being appropriated by former US President Bill Clinton as his campaign song, Over the course of three up-and-down decades, Fleetwood Mac have shown themselves to be nothing if not survivors. And they're still with us, still gigging.

And only someone who has spent the last 30 or so years in isolation in the I'm An Idol Celebrity Get Me Out Of This Academy, Brother house would be in any doubt about which of the many faces of Fleetwood Mac they were going to see illuminated in the stage lights on this tour; there'd be no green manalishi - with or without a three-pronged Crown - putting in a guest appearance tonight. Fleetwood Mac 2003 is quite clearly, the Stevie and Lindsey show. With the well-chronicled fights and feuds and old wounds healed and a new album to promote, the once Hoover-nosed 'Rumours' line-up of 1976 is back on the road. But not quite; this time they are without Christine McVie, who has retired from the music business
completely.

On stage the nucleus of Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and founder members John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are bolstered by no less than six extra people on stage: two percussionists, two backing singers and two guitarists/keyboard players.

Unsurprisingly, 'Rumours' and new album 'Say You Will' provide the majority of the songs tonight. Stevie Nicks, who regularly, ducks out of hitting high notes, dedicates what turns out to be a beautiful version of' 'Landslide' to Christine McVie, who is in the audience. For a band with such a glittering back catalogue, the set could have sparkled with a seemingly endless stream of three and four- minute pop songs. But, to the band's credit, they approach the show from the opposite tack, looking to prove that they are still a vital unit trading on the fact that they're accomplished musicians, Unfortunately that seems to mean that they also feel they have a right to show off. They do, but they shouldn't. On at least two occasions Buckingham goes outrageously over the top when it comes to guitar abuse on the extended jams while Nicks provides the visual accompaniment as a whirling dervish dressed in black.

Mick Fleetwood. should know by now the boredom factor and the momentum-sapping quality of a drum solo. But he rattles one off anyway, albeit one like you've never quite seen before. Fleetwood ventures out from behind his kit wearing some bizarre waistcoat contraption thingy fitted out with drum sample triggers so he can continue to play while prowling the stage. It's all very bizarre. And very long, But such downsides are overshadowed by the quality of so many of the songs (even if that is not always matched by the quality of their performance); plus a strangely charged band dynamic that gives them an unexpected edge. Fleetwood Mac are in an enviable position, and it's one that will enable to continue for a lot longer yet.



SET LIST

'The Chain'
'Dreams'
'Eyes Of The World'
'Peacekeeper'
'Second Hand News'
'Say You Will'
'Never Going Back Again'
'Rhiannon'
'Come'
'Gypsy'
'Big Love'
'Landslide'
'Say Goodbye'
'What's The World Coming To'
'Beautiful Child'
'Gold Dust Woman'
'I'm So Afraid'
'Silver Springs'
'Tusk'
'Stand Back'
'Go Your Own Way'
'World Turning / Mick Solo'
'Don't Stop'
'Goodbye Baby'
 

 

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