“That’s not Stevie Nicks,” asserted the woman sitting next to me at the first night of Fleetwood Mac‘s 2-night stay at The Forum in Los Angeles. “I’ve been to hundreds of her shows and that is not her. She does not move like that.”
Not that I would know: this was my first time seeing the band—now in the glory of their classic lineup—and had little more than music videos and her time on American Horror Story: Coven from which to judge. When I looked up at the wispy-but-imposing blonde woman six rows ahead of me, and then compared it to the screen-sized version hung up above, I felt confident that this was the gypsy herself. I posited as such to the woman to my right. She paused before pointing, “look at her ankles!”
Maybe Stevie Nicks was moving differently that night—but she’d have good reason to be. The band’s most famous
lineup was back in action, including the long-gone Christine McVie, who very well may have stolen the show from her compatriots that night. Her return after a 16-year absence from the group had clearly shot a bolt of electricity up Fleetwood Mac’s collective spine.
And it was evident from minute one. The 2.5 hour show (with no opener) began with “The Chain,” the only song off of 1977’s Rumours that was written by all five members. The energy— from the stage to the very large room surrounding it was one of celebration and fulfillment. Finally, they were right where they belonged.
McVie took over for the second song of the night, “You Make Loving Fun,” during which she beamed the whole time. Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Nicks were all vibrating on that frequency of celebration, loving every minute they were praising McVie’s grounding presence.
This early momentum made this particular concert-goer a bit nervous. The first half of the show was s0 packed with hits—from “Rhiannon” to “Dreams” to “Second Hand News” to “I Know I’m Not Wrong”—that we were, personally, a bit afraid it would all hit a wall.
But oh no, how that gypsy shines when the stars are aligned. When people talk of star and staying power, of a seemingly otherworldly talent and ability to create things that emotionally resonate with people, all they need do is point to Fleetwood Mac as Stevie Nicks spins and spins and spins her way into the mystic magic she’s creating with her voice. There is truly nothing like her, how she demands your eye with her tambourine playing, how hair swirls around her twirling frame, how she conveys emotional honesty within a single note. It’s something special that cannot be diminished by age or time—it just is, and will continue to be, until there is no more sound to be heard.
Other highlights included “Tusk,” complete with a video accompaniment of the USC Marching Band performing the very song while McVie broke out the accordion and Buckingham strutted his way across the stage, and “Lies” for its sheer energy and exuberance.
And, of course, we’d be remiss to not mention “Landslide,” with nothing more than Buckingham on guitar and Nicks on vocals. After all the years between them, and all the words already said about this song, its origins, its relationship to the band that performs it, there’s little more to note that hasn’t already been said. To feel it in that moment, even after the hundreds of thousands of times we’ve all heard it before, it still somehow felt raw, damaged, and poignant. The magic a song like “Landslide” possesses will never really go away—only evolve and get better with age.
It’s like Buckingham noted before his acoustic take on “Big Love,” when he explained, prior to performing it, how much the song’s meaning has changed for him as the years have accumulated. It’s still the same song, sonically and lyrically, but its frame of reference had changed. The way he moves throughout the song’s meaning has shifted, like a dancer acclimating to the new limits and abilities of an aging body. Yet it looked natural next to Stevie and her new dance moves
In that way, the woman next to me was right: this wasn’t Stevie Nicks, not like before. This was something new but still familiar, and it moves to a whole different beat.
Here’s the full setlist:
You Make Loving Fun
Second Hand News
I Know I’m Not Wrong
Sisters of the Moon
Say You Love Me
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way
Alicia Lutes / Nerdist / Tuesday, December 2, 2014