With a career that has spanned 40+ years and includes sales in excess of 100 million records, as well as claiming one of the most successful albums in history (Rumours), Fleetwood Mac are widely regarded as one of the most successful, influential and iconic acts in music history. As a band they have fought through personal demons, fierce relationship break ups, crippling substance abuse and the 16 year long loss of an integral member, but together they have come out the other side more grounded and united than ever before and continue to inspire new generations.
Fleetwood Mac members Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were last scheduled to perform Down Under back in 2013, however as Buckingham explained at last night’s final of three shows at Olympic Parks Allphones Arena, and the 107th show of this latest tour, events conspired against those plans and the tour dates were pulled, much to the dismay of many fans. While it was an unfortunate cancellation, the band has finally stood by their promise of a return to Australian shores with their latest run of dates. This time around, however, the foursome who have been trekking the globe periodically as a four piece for the last 16 years, have returned to their original five piece form, welcoming back the irrepressible Christine McVie.
It’s been a while since I last saw Fleetwood Mac perform. Rewind twelve years and the setting was London’s Earls Court arena with the band promoting 2003’s Say You Will studio album. As a fan of the outfit since as young as I can remember, my earliest memories of Fleetwood Mac are made up of listening to the bands mainly 80’s output on road trips with my family. Being a baby of ’81, songs like Everywhere and Little Lies helped carve a very memorable and musically rich childhood. While I remember feeling in awe and absolutely elated leaving the West London arena following my very first Fleetwood Mac live experience, I also remember feeling a little short changed; there were no McVie hits to be heard. While I adore Nicks and Buckingham’s numbers that make up a good part of the Fleetwood Mac catalogue and any live set; the experience felt a little incomplete for me. That all changed last night as the band took to Sydney for a night filled with nostalgia and surprise.
As a predominantly greatest hits show, most of the bands key hits were delivered at one point or another during the mammoth 3 hour, 23 song set. With the thumping The Chain taking the opening honors, it wasn’t long before returning band member Christine McVie was able to lap up the love from her fans for her overdue return to the outfit with a spectacular performance of You Make Loving Fun. Nicks mesmerized the crowd with pitch perfect renditions of Dreams and Rhiannon while Rumours album opener Second Hand News took a front row seat early on in the set and was superbly executed by Buckingham and co.
A touching segment in the center of the set was reserved for Nicks and Buckingham to deliver a captivating version of Landslide and was an evidently tender moment for the one time duo and famous feuding couple.
Stories behind the conception of some of the bands biggest hits came from Buckingham ahead of their performance of Say You Will surprise inclusion Bleed To Love Her, a sensitive spoken interlude for the guitar hero to shine a light on the bands impressive, and miraculous, longevity. Nicks on the other hand told of her and Buckingham’s early days in San Francisco where the lure of a shop called the Velvet Underground called to the musician before belting out a hypnotic rendition of Gypsy to the beaming crowd of thousands.
Perhaps the reason for new songs to be absent from a Fleetwood Mac set list in 2015 is due to the fact that the longstanding collective rarely head into the studio to lay down new material. Either way, I think the demand from fans who want to hear the bands many successful hits at their shows attributes to the set list retaining a greatest hits feel. With Christine having returned to the Fleetwood Mac fold and enjoying this latest tour with her band mates, it must seem like quite the task to put a set together and to play the songs that tell the Fleetwood Mac story in full – probably also the reason their set is a long as it is on current tours. With McVie’s weighty contribution to the bands repertoire finally capturing some of the limelight after a 16 year absence, the band – and their set – is evidently more rounded and complete. If fact, a number of McVie’s performances were staples during the lengthy set with Everywhere and Little Lies met with a standing ovation and a deafening applause from fans.
With the exception of bass-man John McVie who spent the entire show to the right of Mick’s drum set and kept quite comfortably to himself, each band member had their time to shine during last night’s spectacle with songs that showcased their skills and reputations as iconic musicians in their own right. Nicks was in her element during extended performances of Gold Dust Woman, Gypsy, Sara and Rhiannon as she turned out each hit with conviction and a powerful and distinctive vocal that sounded unweathered throughout the show despite confessing to having a hoarse voice mid-show; Buckingham inspired during a solo, acoustic performance of Big Love that left the audience blown away by his effortless and masterful guitar picking skills as well as his work on one of the bands many signature hits and one of the bigger numbers within last night’s set, Go Your Own Way; eccentric drummer Mick Fleetwood was perched within a golden drum set for the majority of the show and got the crowd worked up for an impressive drum solo during the bands performance of Think About Me while Christine delivered spellbinding performances of some of her biggest Fleetwood Mac accomplishments including You Make Loving Fun, Say You Love Me, Everywhere and Little Lies and was given the honors of closing the show on her grand piano with the stunning Songbird sealing the nights entertainment off on a sweet and sensitive high.
When you go along to see a band like Fleetwood Mac you can’t help but leave the venue feeling enriched and inspired in some way or another. The band have been longstanding music legends for over 4 decades and the fact that they are still around as a unit and performing these songs after so many years, and through so much conflict, is a triumph in itself. The band, while all in their late sixties or early seventies, continue to gain new fans through new generations of listeners as last night’s audience proved, which, while predominantly made up of older fans who have been following the band for many years, also included a large number of teens and twenty-something’s.
Fleetwood Mac may be old timers but they can still put on one hell of a show, and in my opinion, do a much better job than most performers half their age. As Buckingham commented ahead of his Big Love solo slot; “I’ve still got it” – a statement that can easily be said about all 5 members of the iconic collective who are still at the very top of their game and still loving every second of the ride together!
You Make Loving Fun
Second Hand News
Bleed to Love Her
Say You Love Me
Never Going Back Again
Think About Me
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
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