[The Nicks Fix]

The Kansas City Star
August 14, 2003
This is a review of the Fleetwood Mac concert on August 13th in Kansas City.

In several ways the Fleetwood Mac that showed up Wednesday at Kemper...


In several ways the Fleetwood Mac that showed up Wednesday at Kemper Arena wasn't the same band that produced three of the best American pop albums in the latter half of the 1970s.

Only one of the differences was significant, though. Christine McVie is no longer with the band, which meant none of her many hits was on the set list -- a glaring exclusion that no one in the band bothered to address.

So be it. Despite her absence, the four remaining members of the best-known version of this British/Southern California rock band put on quite the excessive show, with help from two backup singers and four musicians.

The show was long -- 24 songs in 21/2 hours -- and loaded with hits and familiar material. And though time has extracted its usual tolls from everyone -- especially vocal range -- this version of Fleetwood Mac managed several times to rekindle the sound that made it a blockbuster American band more than 25 years ago.

The group opened with a version of "The Chain," the first song on Side 2 of "Rumours," that bristled right through its guitar/bass coda. Next came a version of "Dreams" that showed both the strengths and limits of Stevie Nicks' voice these days: It never quavered, but given the choice, she always took the lower octave. She also kept her whirling and spinning to a minimum, letting loose only once, at the end of "Gold Dust Woman."

None of that really mattered. This evening was all about nostalgia, about looking back through sepia-toned glasses. The crowd that nearly filled the place heavily comprised people who were college-aged or older when "Rumours" came out 26 years ago. So when Nicks sang "I'm getting older, too" during "Landslide," she set off a loud, empathetic roar.

That was one of the evening's better moments, especially at the end when Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham stood apart but holding hands, like George and Tammy -- two exes who'd aired so much dirty laundry so long ago.

One of worst moments followed: a version of Buckingham's "Say Goodbye" that sounded clumsy and unrehearsed. It was like watching a band slog through sound check.

Without McVie's material at its disposal, the Mac dipped into some of its lesser-known album cuts. Buckingham finished "I'm So Afraid" with one of his trademark guitar infernos -- he plays frenetic leads without a pick. Then Nicks pulled out "Silver Springs," which was originally the B-side on the "Go Your Own Way" 45 single.

The entire seven-piece band, including co-founders Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass, nearly generated the brassy, marching band thunder that girders the original version of "Tusk." Then Buckingham closed the set with a gritty version of "Go Your Own Way" that was White Stripes-raw, hot and angry.

For the encore, Mick Fleetwood, dressed in knickers and a black vest, bounded on stage and aped around like a guy mimicking John Cleese, Marty Feldman and Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick all at once. In the middle of the first encore, "World Turning," he did his usual prolonged percussion solo, except this time it was on a remote electronic drum instead of the bongos.

After a brisk version of "Don't Stop" -- the evening's only Christine McVie song -- the band took a bow, and the crowd started pouring out of the place, but the Mac had one more message. Stevie had to come back out and deliver "Goodbye Baby," a plea to be remembered.

Perhaps she sensed what was in the air all evening: the deep feeling that this happy occasion was all really just a sweet farewell.

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