Fleetwood Mac At Madison Square Garden, Monday, October 6th, 2014, Reviewed
It couldn’t live up to expectations so of course it didn’t. The return of Christine McVie to Fleetwood Mac after sixteen years, that means we would be getting a third of the hits, just all about the very best of the 70s Mac’s repertoire, back again. And they were pretty terrific without her in. This is what I wrote in April 2013 (here), “The So Cal Mac, a pop art band, break down as follows: Stevie Nicks wrote folk rock anthems for girls who still believed in fairies, Lindsey Buckingham was the King of guitar pop artiness and Christine wrote So Cal anthems. So, with little choice in the matter, the band sang“Don’t Stop” and “You Can Go Your Own Way” without Christine but there was a gaping wound they chose not to mend where “You Make Loving Fun” and “Over My Head” should have been.”
Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the very second song was “You Make Loving Fun” and already the place was a gorgeous calamity with the wonderful singer firmly behind the keyboards and the other Macs exuberant and exulted in only their second performance with Chrissie back in the fold. All of Christine’s great moments were played, from Fleetwood Mac to Tango In The Night. It brought out the best in Lindsey, not that he needs that much to bring out the best in him, and it fit John McVie like, well like the memory of when John and Christine lived together in Malibu and Christine wrote “Over My Head” and joined the Mac. And Mick, was like a six foot five leprechaun of beat.
But Stevie? Maybe it was too early in the tour but Stevie was substantially better in 2013, her voice was an increasingly husky growl, “Landslide” didn’t work “Gypsy” didn’t work and if the best moment not belonging to Christine was Lindsey’s gorgeous guitar work on “Never Going back Again”, the worst was a terrible “Gold Dust Woman” and about as ordinary as Fleetwood Mac can possibly be.
Was Stevie tired? Was she under rehearsed? I dunno but there was something wrong with her and after the incredible 2013 show, where Stevie and Buckingham seemed to reignite a decades gone love affair, she seemed a little bit distracted. I’ve never been a big Nicks fan, indeed I just panned her new solo 24 Karat Gold, but on some level I thought I’d turned a corner with her last year. I really loved her song on the Extended Play EP, “Without You”, with the former couple harmonizing, and a certain closeness, the entire 2013 seemed like a renewing of a type of vow. And I am not blind to this not being the first time they’d played together in the recent past, there was the 2009 tour, but perhaps the recording of the EP had changed their dynamic.
All of that was gone on Monday night. This was a retelling of the prodigal son story, the killing of the fatted calf which left Stevie with less stage time (the way it wouldn’t do for musical director Buckingham) and it was just a little uneasy. A good concert yes, how much joy can you get out of Chrissie singing “falling, falling, falling”? A lot of course. But it didn’t have the spark of a band reinventing itself, Mick Fleetwood told Jessica Goodman of the Huffington Post: “It’s really all about Christine returning. It’s all about the fact that we’re doing all these lovely songs we haven’t done in 20 years. That’s a big enough slice of cake.” But, no, it isn’t. It was a miscalculation but with a two hour set what choice was open to them? In effect, they have too many hits to move forward right this second.
In 2013 I wrote “When Stevie and Lindsay shared the stage while Fleetwood and especially McVie kept them steady, it seemed like a type of symbiosis. Everybody was better and especially Stevie managed an artistic habitation I have never ever consider her in possession of before.”
That didn’t happen Monday night and the tango was the worse for it.