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Review of the May 9th Fleetwood Mac concert at the MCI Center

Fleetwood Mac pleases crowd with old, new


WASHINGTON--Fleetwood Mac hasn't stopped thinking about tomorrow.

The '70s rock group played the MCI Center Friday on a 40-city tour that featured classics as well as tunes from "Say You Will," their first new album in 16 years.

The near-capacity crowd was a mix of all ages--from baby boomers to teenyboppers. With no opening act, there was a 30-minute delay before the group emerged, but they were worth the wait. Their sound has matured, yet the increased comfort level has not bred complacency.

Instead, Fleetwood Mac took some risks, presenting an emotional journey. Pulsing rock rhythms, pounding bass notes, and dazzling guitar solos were contrasted with intimate, acoustic-style moments. The vocals were occasionally obscured by the powerful rhythm section, but sound technicians resolved those issues quickly.

Co-founder Mick Fleetwood sported a graying beard, a receding hairline and a spindly ponytail, but these were the only visible signs of his age. His enormous gold drum set shook the arena--his drumsticks flying, eyes flashing. The percussion consumed his body, and even his eyebrows kept time. His joy was contagious. And there wasn't just one long drum solo--Fleetwood rocked all night.

Co-founder John McVie shunned the limelight but provided solid backup. At times, his powerful bass felt like it could alter any heartbeat.

The two other stars, Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, proved their versatility and endurance. When they sang together, their voices melded in tight harmonies that can only come from years of singing together.

"Landslide"--currently a hit for the Dixie Chicks--got the crowd singing along, with a chuckle at the irony of the line "I'm getting older, too."

Nicks reminded the fans of her superiority. Her distinctive vocal blend of edge and warmth was exquisite on another crowd favorite, "Rhiannon." In the lesser-known, but stunning "Beautiful Child" and the new tune "Destiny Rules," her aura of fragile innocence mixed with the voice of experience. The only distraction to her performance was her compulsive need to play with the ribbons on her microphone and tambourine.

She had no need to be nervous.

Not to be outdone, Lindsay Buckingham showed his range as a gifted guitarist and vocalist. During his solo, "Looking Out for Love," any doubts about his aging voice vanished. Passion and fire flew through his fingers in several exhausting guitar solos. Classical technique fused with a rocker's soul to ignite the audience.

The group closed the two-hour show with classic favorites "Stand Back" and "Go Your Own Way," adding new sparks to modernize each vintage tune. Those enjoyable encores left the crowd chanting for more.

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