The Dance Concert
Nashville 11-07-97 Review

Nashville Banner 11-7-97
By Jay Orr

Baby boomers appreciate reunited Fleetwood Mac


The words to the classic rock ballad were the same, but more than 20 years down the line they've taken on new meaning. Standing center stage at the Nashville Arena Thursday night, Stevie Nicks and her former partner, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, gave delicate life to Fleetwood Mac's Landslide. ``Time makes you bolder, children get older, I'm getting older, too,'' Nicks sang again. Only this time, instead of imagining what aging might be like, many in the capacity crowd embraced the sentiment for its reflection of current reality.

Since the band's inception 30 years ago as a British blues group, Fleetwood Mac has gone through more personnel changes than your average minor league baseball team. Much is being made of Fleetwood Mac's return this year, but a group of the same name toured in 1995, playing a classic rock concert at Starwood with REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar. And in 1994, the band performed at Riverfront Park with Kiss. What's different, of course, is that this year's roster -- reunited around original members, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie -- is the lineup that produced Rumours. Released in 1977, that album has sold 25 million copies worldwide, spawned a Democratic campaign anthem (Don't Stop) and become part of the life soundtrack for late-era baby boomers.

With strong songwriting and vocals from Christine McVie, Nicks and Buckingham, the album stands as a pop classic, echoing the California culture that spawned it and the personal and spiritual trauma that the band's members endured during its recording.

The group's '70s-era arena rock still plays well in the '90s. Sold-out audiences are greeting Fleetwood Mac at every tour stop, a long-form concert video is a top-seller, and the band's new album, The Dance -- essentially a greatest hits collection recorded live earlier this year -- is near the top of Billboard's pop album chart.

Thursday night's concert stayed close to the pattern established by the set filmed earlier this year for MTV and home video. The Chain, co-written by all five members, opened the show, followed by Dreams, Everywhere, Gold Dust Woman, I'm So Afraid (a Buckingham showcase), Temporary One (a new song), and so on.

The Rumours-era version of Fleetwood Mac enjoyed more success than any other lineup because the individuals in the band were/are uncommonly talented. Buckingham is an outstanding vocalist with great range and a physical bearing that reflects the reach of his music. When he sings high, he cranes his neck back, goes up on his toes and lets the veins in his neck pop out. When he unleashes a flurry of rock runs on his guitar, he throws his head back, mouth open, or he goose steps around Fleetwood's drum riser.

Vocalist Nicks is famous for her twirling dances, her diaphanous, layered dresses and her ribboned tambourines. Mac classics Rhiannon, Landslide and Silver Springs would be hard to imagine without her soulful phrasing. Christine McVie comes out from behind her keyboards occasionally, her English accent tying the band to its roots, and her up-tempo pop songs balancing Nicks' more ethereal fare.

In arena rock tradition, there were minor excesses. Running nearly two and a half hours, the concert got a little unwieldy toward the middle, when Fleetwood followed Nicks (Stand Back), Christine McVie (Oh Daddy) and Buckingham (Not That Funny) with an extended drum solo that included the use of high-tech drum triggers to create percussive effects when Fleetwood slapped his hands on his vest. Because the band's personal soap operas and psychodramas have been publicized extensively -- in Fleetwood's memoirs and in dozens of magazine articles -- it was easy to imagine that small gestures had great meaning.

Buckingham and Nicks embraced and kissed following Landslide, and Buckingham approached Nicks again to gaze intently at her during the final bars of Silver Springs. To close, the band dipped into the Beach Boys' song bag, harmonizing on Farmer's Daughter and tying themselves into the California pop tradition.

In elegant, graceful fashion, The Dance celebrates that tradition and Fleetwood Mac's resilience -- as a band and as people.

(I brought this newspaper in Nashville in Nov 1997 whilst at The Dance concert)


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