Armed with hits, Fleetwood Mac plays with crowd's emotions at Verizon Center

  • Singer Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac performs at the Honda Center on May 23, 2009 in Anaheim, Calif.
Singer Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac performs at the Honda Center… (Kevin Winter / Getty Images )
April 10, 2013|By Lexie Mountain | Midnight Sun contributor

I have to admit that even though "Second Hand News" is a great way to kick off a night of what was clearly going to be hit after hit of A+, No. 1, solid-gold Fleetwood Mac tunes, hearing Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks sing the first few measures put a little stone in my throat. Lindsey sounded ragged and rough: Did he give too much to Madison Square Garden the night before? Perhaps over-carousing? Does Lindsey deign to carouse? And Stevie, oh Stevie, the top range of her uniquely fluid yet meaty voice clipped. It was almost too hoarse and monotonic.

Enthusiasm prevailed, however. Lindsey yelling, "GO GO GO" and stomping while John McVie, safe under his cap aside Mick Fleetwood’s golden kit complete with gigantic chime rack and head-framing gong, appeared to be doing his John McVie thing, which is not asking for any of the spotlight, only undergirding the whole band since time immemorial.

"The Chain" sent people into a frenzy, inasmuch as people trapped in seats can frenzy. Buckingham absolutely screamed. Chimes came into the picture in a major way. "The Chain" is something that Fleetwood Mac vowed never to break, and the song’s unbreakable burliness felt intact as it echoed throughout the room. Lindsey hollered "RUN RUN RUN RUN," somehow becoming less hoarse in the process.

By "Dreams," the batwing shirt-ed, fedora'd Stevies in the audience were out of their seat and twirling, with Nicks, on stage, clapping her hands against her wrists in an oddly muppety fashion. "OK," we said to ourselves, "it seems that she has lost some of her range, but who cares?" She’s got it where it counts and the backup singers are picking up the slack.

Waves of misty, lightshow light caressed the audience; waves of hulking classic rock slowjams rumbled through everyone’s personal memory bank. "Dreams" provided an in-the-zone moment: The point being that Mick Fleetwood is an animal behind the kit, to extend that metaphorical muppetiness a bit further, and he is mugging and slinging and sounds gigantic, which is what you want from the human epicenter of persistent mutation that is Fleetwood Mac.

Buckingham introduced the gentle rocker “Sad Angel” by noting, almost apologetically, that it was “the best stuff we've done in a long time " and then put the entire audience to the test by actually playing it. When Lindsey Buckingham says “a long time”, how long is he talking about? Can someone please fact-check the last time Fleetwood Mac wrote a song? Buckingham’s been spraying the world with solo tunes for ever, and apparently "Sad Angel" was written over a year ago but will be released “any day now” he promised, as part of an EP. EP! (Dear Fleetwood Mac, we want outtakes. We will listen to anything. Why restrict it to an EP?)

Here’s the rub: "Sad Angel" was not that bad, actually. It provided a good beer break for many audience members and brought some undue attention to the LED wingding display modules at the corner of the stage. The background images appeared to be an Ed Hardy shirt eating itself whole; in the words of my companion, the stage design looked “like a JC Penney commercial.” The song itself struck a note somewhere between the more exciting elements of "Mirage" and Buckingham’s solo jam “Red Rover”: A little treacly but with enough choral kick to give it the necessary oomph.

Out of nowhere, the stagecraft went from incongruous to blinding. A blast of white light, a visual approximation of "Rhiannon" probably cribbed from deviantart.com, and the band launched into “Rhiannon.” Nicks hoisted sparkling beads in her sparkle-draped, fingerless-gloved hands and changed the vocal melody so that she wouldn’t have to hit the high notes. The work of the backup singers was most evident here, especially during one point in which it appeared that Madam Nicks was simply mouthing the word "Rhiannon." I don’t want to say the experience was disappointing because “Rhiannon” is, at this point, a song you hear while shopping for aspirin and thus drilled into your head as having to exist a certain way. The essential components of the song were present and generally satisfactory. B+, would hear while price-comparing Band-aids again.

The great thing about Fleetwood Mac is that for every "Rhiannon" there is a "Not That Funny." Buckingham introduced a tight block of "Tusk" hits by saying, “I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Warner Brothers first played that album in the boardroom because it was not what they expected and really not what they wanted.”

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