Lindsey Buckingham And Christine McVie AT Beacon Theatre, Thursday, August 10th, 2017, Reviewed
Some moments mean more than others, from the fifth row of Beacon Theatre Thursday night, I was close enough to watch Lindsey Buckingham’s fingers as he recreated the solo to “You Make Loving Fun,” and close enough to share in Buckingham and Christine Mcvie’s joy in creation as the astoundingly attractive septuagenarian Mcvie withstood the glare of the spotlight and shone through one of her greatest moments. If the show had needed igniting this would have done it, but it didn’t and wouldn’t. This was one of the happiest evenings of music, Buckingham and McVie are naturals together, LB rushing across the stage, hopping, jumping, buckling, at the lip of the stage letting audiences members bang on his guitar, was a just about genius and McVie, who gets stuck behind the keyboards and never comes out with Fleetwood Mac, was Perfect playing an accordion, shaking maracas, out and away from the keyboards, in black jeans and blonde hair, a wonder to behold.
More than Jeremy Spencer, more than Peter Green, if I ever had a favorite Fleetwood Mac it was Christie McVie: neither a teenage blues phenom nor a So Cal tan blonde, England’s Christine Perfect married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie (where do you think the Mac comes from?) and five years later left Chicken Shack and joined her husband’s band. The excesses of the 1970s pop scene seemed to glance off Christie (both of her solo albums are must buys, by the way); whenever she took her turn writing for the Mac, the levels on the band seemed to effortlessly improve on the already great. With neither Lindsey Buckingham’s sophisticated arrangement craft nor Stevie Nicks’ witchy woman coke child of the fairy kingdom, she steadied the band and pushed them forward with the hits: “Don’t Stop,” (the Clinton who won’s theme song), “Everything,” “Say You Love Me,” “Over My Head,” “Go Your Own Way” (technically Buckingham but let’s get real here) and “You Make Loving Fun” -to name some faves. When Christie returned to the Mac after a fifteen year absence in 2014, I totally lost it.
I caught the deluxe Fleetwood Mac return of the prodigal daughter when it arrived in New York, October 2014 (here), though my different zipcode seats didn’t help. So I skipped the January 2015 gig (Robert Ross wrote a great review for us here), and skipped the Classic East show. Earlier this year, the remnants of an aborted Fleetwood Mac album (Stevie too busy with her solo career), lead to a Buckingham-McVie album. I thought it was alright, nothing great. Much like the current Haim album, it missed an “Over My Head” -that one or three songs to push it over. This is strange because the last Mac release, 2013’s Extended Play was masterful and as for solo Buckingham… wow, from his earliest work, Buckingham Nicks, through the brilliant Law And Order and (really, that long ago?) 2008’s Gift Of Screws and 2011’s Seeds We Sow, the master guitarist, as gifted on acoustic as electric guitar, has always been a giant. I was talking about Buckingham with the great guitarist in his own right Barry Holdship a couple of years ago, who firmly put me in my place by firmly putting Lindsey in his place in the rock firmament, near the top. I wish Barry had been there with me to watch LB give a performance that forced you to tear your eyes away from Christie very early on. Opening with Law And Order’s return to the lover “Trouble,” “I really should be saying goodnight” and ending the set proper with “Go Your Own Way,” the parenthetical inclined songs made the set in the middle a date gone right, the intimacy of the Beacon a swoony dream of a place making us all into GTOs. Wildorado opened, an electric four piece from LA with some of the pastoral about them, it took a little while for the band to warm up, but they sweetness and good humor won us over, and I will definitely explore further.
The main event: the first four songs were just the two friends, Lindsey performing a fine “Trouble” and two songs later a stunning personal best “Never Going Back Again,” a folkie power pop song that oozes out to you, all delivered, emotional wallop, quietly devastating and leading to the first of several standing ovations. After four songs, they brought up the backing band, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and keyboards/guitar, and laid into the new album for four songs in succession. I’ve noted my doubts about the newbie, however it is worth noting that the great Herb Eimerman, who knows more about power pop and melody than I ever will, said that he couldn’t stop listening to it. The first three songs are right from the top of the album, “Sleeping Round The Corner” is so jaunty you’d think Christie had written it, and while the years have coarsened Lindsey’s falsetto (he changes keys to fix it), Christie sounds the same on the calypso flicked “Feel About You”. Absolutely, proximity helped. Lindsey is gorgeous, if Ellen Bach thinks she is ever going to a Mac show, she is sadly mistaken. The man is all muscle and jawline, he looks better than he did in the 80s, and he doesn’t stalk but surrenders to the stage and it all becomes a real one night stand as he blows kisses to us. Buckingham is 67 years old, McVie is 74 -they are two of the best looking musicians I’ve seen on stage this year and they have chemistry, as former rock nyc writer Mike Nessing noted: “Buckingham on stage is something to behold. He summons up the greatness from the core of his being, as if he’s speaking in tongues. With McVie, her talents seem to just spill out casually. Together, they make for a thrilling display of ying/yang.”.For certain musicians, the difference forty years make is to straighten em up and concentrate their powers: the new “Too Far Gone” owes a debt to earlier iterations of the Mac as well as Buckingham’s taste for tribal drumming, the extended “I’m So Afraid” stopped the evening in its track as we marvelled at the rough LB and his second guitarist. Neil (didn’t catch his last name)… from time to time I’d eyeball LB and he wouldn’t be playing what I was hearing, it was Neil behind him; on “I’m So Afraid” the entire band came into its own and it was the best purely musical moment of the evening. Another rush of Mac songs, including a “Tusk” to remind you of “Too Far Gone”‘s genesis. “Too Far Gone” was surrounded by “You Make Loving Fun” on one side and “Go Your Own Way” on the other, as we lead off to the encore. If that doesn’t have you salivating, this night is not for you.
The one real mistake was the encore, “Everyday” followed by two new songs. Mac knows and Lindsey knows what I know, they should have ended with “Don’t Stop”. It was an odd misstep and given the obvious care of the setlist I would guess it has something to do with Lindsey’s claim that the two might be collaborating again and wanting to remind us why we were there. That’s alright with me, as long as I can spend the night staring at Lindsey’s fingers and Christie’s face, they can play “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” for all I care.