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The Buffalo News
Magic Mac

From greatest hits to new tunes, the band still plays with passion

News Pop Music Critic

WHO: Fleetwood Mac
WHEN: Thursday night

Thursday night, Fleetwood Mac offered a performance that bordered on the divine. HSBC Arena shook with the majesty and the grandeur of this band. The group played several tunes from its new album, as well as a broad selection of songs from its storied career. Sure, longtime keyboardist Christine McVie was absent; she opted out of this reunion tour and its concomitant album release, the mostly wonderful "Say You Will." But McVie's absence was felt only slightly throughout this impassioned and incredibly virtuosic concert. For the most part, the Mac rocked our world, and we were quite happy to let the musicians know that this was the case.

The band - guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Lindsey Buckingham, vocalist Stevie Nicks, drummer and founder Mick Fleetwood, and co-founder and bassist John McVie - tore through a selection of its strongest material, from its mega-platinum effort "Rumours" (1977) to its most recent release.

It was a bit of a greatest-hits show in many ways - plenty of "Rumours" tracks appeared, including the huge hits "Dreams," "Don't Stop" and "Go Your Own Way" - but what made the evening remarkable was Buckingham, whose incredible guitar playing, passionate singing and general band direction raised the show from merely reiterative to outstanding.

The Buckingham songs were the set's highlights. Opener "The Chain" shook with the emotional tremors of his voice and guitar playing; the new single "Peacekeeper" rang true on the strength of his voice and emotive finger-picked guitar playing; "Never Going Back Again" sounded like bluegrass played by a bunch of Southern Californians; "I'm So Afraid" was epic rock, as Buckingham broke his third set of strings while playing a solo that can only be described as sublime.

Nicks had her moments, and it's fair to suppose that a healthy portion of the crowd came to see her. Her harmonies were perfect when she and Buckingham took center stage without the aid of the two harmony vocalists who beefed up her performance for much of the show.

The hits were plentiful - "Never Going Back Again"; "Rhiannon"; "Gypsy"; "Big Love"; "Gold Dust Woman," on which Nicks upped the ante on the concert's emotional investment; and "Silver Springs," a remarkably emotional duet between Buckingham and Nicks, former lovers and today an incredibly effective musical duo.

Negative thoughts? None came from the band. But on occasion, the audience behaved in a manner that can only be described as rude.

Here's some advice, for what it's worth:

If you're planning on going to see a band that reminds you of your youth, and said band happens to have a new album out, don't be surprised if it plays a healthy number of selections from that album.

If you expect your favorite band to act as a human jukebox, you're better off staying home and playing your favorite albums. Don't come to the show and rather vociferously voice your opinion that the band should play only tunes you're familiar with.

Really. Give the rest of us a break.

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