Rocktober Day 3: Fleetwood Mac at the United Center – a concert for the (middle) ages
I can’t hold the the rope much longer in my epic tug-of-war with Denial, and the concerts I’ve attended recently are doing nothing to firm up my grip: Alanis Morissette at Caesar’s. A Go-Go’s romp at Ravinia. And last night: Fleetwood Mac. One look at my fellow concert-goers, and it is clear that it won’t be long, now, before I am pulled over the line, and must finally surrender to the truth: I am a middle-aged adult.
With tickets for last night’s show starting at over $100 for seats BEHIND THE STAGE, the crowd was certainly more yoga’d and designer eyeglasses’d than the plastic beer cup crowd at Alanis’ show at Caesar’s, last weekend. (You Live, You Learn, I guess) This was no low-dough show.
And nor should it be. Fleetwood Mac is a legendary rock band. This is their 35th year as a band, and they sold out the United Center. Twice. As a person whose last piece of writing was seen by 67 people, I have only mad respect for what this band has accomplished. (Stevie Nicks told a story about how, in 1969, she and Lindsay were in a band that opened for Janis….. Jimi…. So, yeah.)
For most concert-goers, the evening fell into one of two categories: either a fancy date night, or “GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT! WOOOOO!” The combined 401K wealth in the arena had to have been in the low billions. I would be willing to bet that Weight Watchers had made money off of at least 85% of the women in the room at some point in their lives: a meeting, or at the very, very least, a one month on-line susbscription. This was a crowd of women who knew their way around a point slide, myself included. That’s not a judgement call. It’s just a rite of passage.
For Fleetwood Mac, the night was about Christine McVie’s return after a sixteen year absence. It was something the band had long ago written off as a possibility. Stevie Nicks once said about Christine’s departure: She went to England and she has never been back since 1998, so it’s not really feasible, as much as we would all like to think that she’ll just change her mind one day. I don’t think it’ll happen. We love her, so we had to let her go. (Digital Spy, 12/6/12) And last night, she was back.
I noticed that in both the flashing LED band photo that covered the entire side of the United Center, then again on the stage, Christine McVie looked less like a rock star, and more like a nice breakfast waitress from Denny’s. She moved to the beat like a wallflower aunt at a wedding: step left, feet together. Step right, feet together. She delivered the best one-liner of the night. When introduced at the beginning of the night to a thunderous ovation, Stevie Nicks jokingly asked her, “So where’ve ya been?” And Christine said: “Long story.” She thanked the crowd and the band for having her back with a sincerity that filled the arena.
So what really happened last night? What did I see? Because I don’t believe that what happened up there was really, well, rock and roll. There was fine musicianship, sure. A string of hits that will forever be in rotation on Classic Rock stations, absolutely. But rock and roll? Mick Fleetwood’s drum set sounded like it was run through a Garage Band “arena drum kit” filter on an iMac. Lindsay Buckinham still wears skinny jeans like a rock star boss, I’ll give him that. But where once Stevie Nicks was a mad whirling dervish on stage, we now atta-girl clapped when she did four slowwww motion turns without falling. Watching a rock show in a venue as monstrous as the United Center is akin to watching, say, a foosball match in an operating room theater. If your car stereo sounded like what was coming out of the speakers, you would turn your radio off, take it to the shop, and ask them to fix your crappy speakers.
Nope. No new stories were built atop Fleetwood Mac’s legendary structure, Thursday night. That concert was about looking at the band, and at each other, and saying,
“We are all still here. And that’s awesome.”
The oeuvre of Fleetwood Mac emerged during our formative milestones: our first slow dances. The great heartbreak. Our first weddings. Some first divorces. Some second weddings. Many funerals.
But we are all still here, and that’s awesome. This idea seems especially poignant in the wake of the iconic losses of recents months. It’s getting serious, guys. We have reached the age when, frankly, life is no longer to be taken for granted. These are the days of second winds and now-or-nevers. Because we are still here. And that’s awesome.
Rock stars are the royal family of fantasy: what is more mystical, more mythical than a rock star? They are our collective projections of our greatest desires, set to music. So who better than the bonafide rock legends of Fleetwood Mac to play out one of the greatest fantasies of all time: that someone we love will someday come back to us.
(Now if I was a craptastic writer, then here at the bottom, I would write, “So Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow!” But I won’t. You’re welcome.)
That’s my piece and that’s my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on…
JA / Chicago Now / Friday, October 3, 2014
Meet the Blogger JA has called Chicago "home" since June 1, 1995. She relocated from Orlando after receiving a "message" to do so during the Winona Ryder/Susan Sarandon version of the film "Little Women." (She is fully aware it could have been the booze fumes talking, but those fumes were on to something if that's the case...) She sometimes works on her novel tentatively titled "The Branson Novel," but so what, right? Everyone is working on something. She wants you to know that she digs you. Like, kinda hard. if you have something to say, let it be heard at firstname.lastname@example.org She Twitts, sometimes, too: @oldsinglemom