‘Of all the elite bands of the Seventies, we’re the only one touring with the same lineup we had in 1975,’ Stevie Nicks said proudly in Rob Sheffield’s recent article in Rolling Stone. It’s a Monday night in New York City and I had no plans, so I made a last minute purchase to see Fleetwood Mac at the Garden with all five original members: Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Nicks and their songbird, Christine McVie, who returns to the lineup for the first time since 1997. Here were my takeaways:
Christine McVie Completes the Band
I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac several times, most recently last year, but I never realized how much Christine McVie contributes to the balance of the Mac songbook. Buckingham is the tortured rock visionary. Nicks is the mystical romantic. McVie is the optimistic hit maker. ‘You Make Loving Fun,’ ‘Everywhere’ and ‘Little Lies’ are proof of that, but just to hear her vocals on her song ‘Don’t Stop’ made my night. She reflected on life with ex-husband John McVie in a small house in Malibu in the ’70s which inspired ‘Say You Love Me.’ Even her harmonies on Nicks’ songs like ‘Dreams’ made all the difference. After 16 years of living in the English countryside, she’s been sorely missed by her band mates and fans alike. She closed the night behind a grand piano with Buckingham accompanying her on guitar with ‘Songbird.’
Big Love = Embrace Change
If there’s a lesson I learned at this show, it’s that a song’s meaning evolves over time. That’s what Lindsey Buckingham said about his song, ‘Big Love,’ the lead single off their 1987 album Tango in the Night. Today it’s all about embracing change, taking care of yourself and being kind to each other. I couldn’t agree more. Over the two and a half hour concert, Buckingham was the only player to stay on stage for all but five minutes. ‘Tusk,’ ‘Never Going Back Again,’ ‘Second Hand News’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’ were all brilliant songwriting contributions of Buckingham that were performed.
Late in Life and Top of their Game
Every time I see the Mac I’m reminded of how great each player is in his or her own right. Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham covered, let’s talk about Stevie Nicks whose voice is so astonishingly powerful. ‘Sisters of the Moon,’ ‘Gold Dust Woman’ and ‘Silver Springs’ all were slayed by this beguiling one. Thanks to American Horror Story: Coven, we were treated to the long-forgotten hit ‘Seven Wonders.’ Even Mick Fleetwood’s inaudible yammering during his drum solo on ‘World Turning’ has to be appreciated. Acknowledged as the ‘backbone’ of Fleetwood Mac, the quiet and reserved John McVie and his bass line on ‘The Chain’ gets me every time. It’s interesting to me that ‘The Chain’ is the only song in which all five band members received equal writing credit. ‘I can still hear you saying, you would never break, never break the chain.’
In closing, I have to say that I love this band so much. I’m so inspired by them in the way they’ve evolved and aged with grace and perspective. They make me happy to be growing older. They prove that when you’re doing something you love, you just don’t have to retire. Just ask Christine McVie. Chain, keep them together.