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Fleetwood Mac
Rocking the USA!



 

....The nearly 2½-hour show opened with the Mac's signature "The Chain" and was followed by crowd-pleaser "Dreams," from the group's critically acclaimed "Rumours" album. It would have been easy for Fleetwood Mac to exclusively dip into its extensive catalog of favorites and perform a greatest-hits show.
.....The band, however, played a handful of songs from its latest CD Say You Will, proving that this band won't simply rehash successful musical formulas. The new tunes were strong numbers from an album that already has gotten industry and fan approval.
.....Despite Fleetwood Mac's problematic 30-year-plus history as a band dealing with internal struggles, drug abuse, relationship entanglements and other lifestyle conflicts, the music always has remained in the spotlight. This concert demonstrated that musical power; the band has long been known for its heavyweight, revved-up live performances.
.....As many people revere the band for its brittle, beautiful songs as ridicule it as a symbol of '70s excess. This puts the reunited band members in an awkward position. If they play too many of their countless hits live, they get dismissed as a nostalgia act. But if they don't, they foster their reputation for narcissism and indulgence. Fortunately the absence of keyboardist Christine McVie from the current lineup forced fellow singer-songwriters Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to go head to head for the band's latest album, "Say You Will," and the pair came up with some strong new songs, even if the awkwardly skewed creative dynamics both help and hurt the group. Fleetwood Mac sensibly decided not to replace McVie for its tour, though the band did enlist a half-dozen supporting players for its appearance at the Oakland Arena on Thursday night, to a sold out show.
.......Just about everything in between, however, was a rousing testament to Fleetwood Mac's talents and, in particular, those of resident genius Buckingham. Buckingham's a true rock eccentric who has turned his back on Mac many times before, and you get the impression he wouldn't bother touring were he not wholly committed. Fleetwood Mac delivers slick studio quality under the guise of soft rock, and Buckingham's strange bent brings out the best in the band. But Thursday night, the band sounded awesome. Buckingham displayed his unique guitar prowess, playing without a pick on both the acoustic songs and the electric rockers, his right hand flaying and flapping like a paddle. But Buckingham's is a surprisingly precise paddle, and whether performing the frenetic "Big Love" alone on acoustic guitar or taking an epic solo during "I'm So Afraid," he showed off his virtuoso, folk-formed technique. Stevie Nicks, was on cue with her various witchy personas - designated by a selection of color-coded shawls - were predictably trotted out during "Rhiannon," "Gypsy" and "Gold Dust Woman," . Facing old age Stevie stills has the photograhpers shoot 500 feet away. I still think she is beautiful with lokks and voice. During the gorgeous "Landslide," a recent hit for the Dixie Chicks, the 55-year-old Nicks bravely sang about facing old age. She was under 30 when she wrote the song, but with each passing year, her delivery grows more heartfelt. Nicks also sang "Beautiful Child" from the band's unsung 1979 masterpiece "Tusk," but along with that album's ever-bizarre title track and an out-of-place version of Nicks' solo disco hit "Stand Back," the bulk of the set came from 1975's self-titled "Fleetwood Mac" disc, 1977's "Rumours" and "Say You Will." Again, McVie's "Say You Love Me" and "You Make Loving Fun" were sorely missed, but the rest of the band made due with one less spotlight. New songs, such as "What's the World Coming To" and the ballad "Say Goodbye," fit in with the classics remarkably well, and throughout bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood showed themselves to be one of classic rock's most reliable and supple rhythm sections. As Fleetwood Mac's namesake and the only two remaining founding members, they also know what's good for the band: When in doubt, just let Lindsey loose and Stevie sing her classics the rest falls into place.

By Randy Cohen

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