Fleetwood Mac is easily one of the most rock ’n’ roll bands in rock ’n’ roll.
From the cocaine binges to the in-fighting to the affairs to the cults (founding member Jeremy Spencer left to join one in 1971) to the extravagant contracts (Nicks and McVie reportedly wanted their hotel rooms freshly painted in specific colours before they arrived), the band has the kind of history rock biographers dream of.
Dishy drama aside, Fleetwood Mac is also responsible for one of the best-selling albums of all time — 1977’s landmark Rumours — and a catalogue of enduring classics. And then, of course, Fleetwood Mac also has Stevie Nicks — that quintessential blonde California girl in her shawls and fringes, who inspired a thousand imitators with both her songwriting prowess and her iconic image.
It’s easy to get romantic about Fleetwood Mac, whose current (and aptly titled) On with the Show tour rolled into the MTS Centre on Monday night, the band’s second show in Winnipeg in less than two years. As Jada Yuan wrote in a Vulture profile of Nicks, “you don’t come to one of their shows just for the music; you come to watch them masochistically stare down their past before a live audience.” The history onstage is palpable.
And with Christine McVie back in the band rounding out the most famous Mac lineup of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Nicks, Monday night’s show felt even more significant.
After opening with “The Chain” — which boasted a blistering Buckingham solo; the man is ageless — Christine was given a warm welcome back when she took over the mic for “You Make Loving Fun.” “Welcome Winnipeg! And welcome back Chris!” Nicks shouted before launching into “Dreams.”
As one would expect, the sprawling two-and-a-half-hour show was mostly a greatest hits package; if you came to hear Rumours in nearly its entirety, you were rewarded — the band played everything but “Oh Daddy” and “I Don’t Want to Know.”
Much-loved McVie songs — such as “Everywhere,” “Say You Love Me” and “Over My Head” — are also obviously back in rotation this time out, which was another treat; it’s been 16 years since we’ve heard Christine’s fine-wine pipes live. (She quit the band in ’98, apparently due to a crippling fear of flying.) And she delivered; her presence made the performances feel more “complete,” to borrow a word from Mick Fleetwood.
She might not be able to reach the heights she used to, but Nicks’ voice has also gotten deeper and richer with age, as evidenced on “Rhiannon,” a purring “Sisters of the Moon” and, later on in the night, show-stopping performances of “Landslide” and the ever-haunting “Gold Dust Woman.” The latter, in particular, will go down as one of the year’s best concert moments. She sent shivers down this reviewer’s spine.
If Stevie Nicks, twirling in her shawls and her ribbon-festooned tambourine, is a rock ’n’ roll goddess, then Buckingham is a bona fide guitar god. “I Know I’m Not Wrong” — with the guitarist turning in a positively punk rock performance — was an early set highlight, as was the driving “Tusk.” An arresting solo-acoustic reading of “Big Love” — from 1987’s Tango in the Night — was a stunning reminder of what an agile guitarist he is. It’s a bit of a shame that he wasn’t given more room to stretch out on more extended jams; the solo on “I’m So Afraid” was a scorcher.
The energy barely waned over the course of what was a marathon show, but it never felt like it. A boisterous Little Lies had the folks in the first few rows on the floor dancing their hearts out. Main set closer “Go Your Own Way” — with Nicks in her top hat — was similarly resplendent.
The band returned for a sizzling four-song encore that included “World Turning” (which, like last time, featured a pummelling Fleetwood drum solo), a bouncy “Don’t Stop,” “Silver Springs” — written for Lindsey, according to Mac lore — and, fittingly, closed with a spare, stripped-down version Christine McVie’s lovely “Songbird.”
Maybe Buckingham was right when he said this was the start of a new chapter for Fleetwood Mac earlier in the night. This isn’t a mere nostalgia act. This is a band renewed.
CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac’s terrific live show more than just Rumours
Nov. 10, 2014
Attendance: Not available
4.5 stars out of 5
Jen Zoratti / Winnipeg Free Press / Tuesday, November 11, 2014