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Still Going Their Own Way

Saturday, July 3, 2004  
By Alan Sculley
For The Columbian - Vancouver, WA, USA

A year ago, as Fleetwood Mac got set to release its new studio album, "Say You Will," drummer Mick Fleetwood knew any extended future for the reunited group would probably hinge on how things went on the impending tour to support the CD.  
"Hopefully this will be a happy and successful tour and more importantly a happy tour for everyone this next year and a half of work," Fleetwood said in a March 2003 interview. "If that is the case, I think everyone is really open to making more music and doing it really quickly."  
The mere fact that a year later Fleetwood Mac is in the midst of another 10-week American tour, which arrives at the Amphitheater at Clark Clark County on Monday, says volumes in itself about the quality of life within the group, which includes guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks and bassist John McVie. (Longtime singer/keyboardist Christine McVie did not rejoin the band for "Say You Will.")  
"It could have turned into a nightmare, and it didn't," Fleetwood said of the tour.  What helps, of course, is that life has changed in drastic ways for the band members, whose personal dramas during the 1970s and '80s were as big a storyline as their record-setting success.  
The arrival of the then-romantically linked Buckingham and Nicks in 1974 reshaped the musical direction and the fortunes of Fleetwood Mac, which up to then had enjoyed nothing bigger than a modest following after debuting in 1967 as a blues-rooted rock band fronted by guitarist Peter Green.  
Buckingham and Nicks had released a folk-pop-flavoured album as a duo in 1973. Along with songwriter Christine McVie, they steered the group toward more of an impeccably crafted California pop sound, and the shift quickly paid phenomenal dividends.  
A 1975 self-titled album caught fire behind three hit singles, "Over My Head," "Say You Love Me" and "Rhiannon" (the latter a coming-out showcase for the charismatic Nicks). Then in 1976 came "Rumours," the mega-platinum, hit-filled Grammy-winning album that topped the charts for 31 weeks.  As fans now know, "Rumours" documented the stormy disintegrations of the Buckingham-Nicks romance and the marriage of the McVies.  
The wounds from those separations, coupled with a drug-fuelled lifestyle and a then-secret romance between Fleetwood and Nicks in the late 1970s created monumental tensions over the next decade. Somehow the group co-existed long enough to make three more studio CDs before Buckingham's departure in 1987 spelled an end of an era for the group.  
A decade later, though, Buckingham and his four former bandmates decided to try reuniting.  The first step was recording a live CD, "The Dance," in 1997, followed by a lucrative tour.  But rather than lead directly to a new Fleetwood Mac studio CD, Buckingham, after the tour, returned to work on his in-progress third solo CD.  
Nicks, seeing a lack of movement toward recording a Fleetwood Mac record, instead also made a solo CD, "Trouble In Shangri-La." Eventually Buckingham, with encouragement in particular from Fleetwood, decided to make his solo album the foundation for the new Fleetwood Mac release. And just before starting her tour to support "Trouble In Shangri-La," Nicks gave Buckingham a CD of 17 songs and invited the rest of the band which by this time had seen Christine McVie bow out to start recording the songs they liked while she went on her solo tour.  
Finally last spring, Fleetwood Mac emerged with the solid 18-song "Say You Will" CD, minus Christine McVie, but at least the tenuous prospect of an extended future as a group.  The year of touring that has since followed, Fleetwood said, has done much to rebuild the bruised but still-potent chemistry in the group.  
Whether Fleetwood Mac would thrive again largely hinged on how Buckingham and Nicks meshed during the tour, he said. "Internally what was really important, you know, we have a new front line. It's really Stevie's and Lindsey's deal," Fleetwood said.  
"Not to denigrate me and John, but the reality is a band is a band is a band, but there's also a front line is a front line. And that has been the most important thing where they have arrived, because they've never necessarily seen eye to eye on a lot of things during their history, and I think the testimony to the fact that that's working is the fact that we are still out here doing this (tour). They have really found what they had when they were Buckingham/Nicks, and it's more and more and more pronounced.  
"So that has been a big success," Fleetwood said. "And any ups and downs that they are prone to as people emotionally have been handled really well to allow them total free rein to really blossom on stage. It's been magical, it really has."  






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