[The Nicks Fix]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
June 29, 2003
The following is a review of the Fleetwood Mac show in Milwaukee on June 29.

New Fleetwood Mac has old flair

Christine McVie's absence doesn't rob band of power


For its "Say You Will" tour, Fleetwood Mac has the feel of an old warhorse in fresh armor.

The Fleetwood Mac that came to the Marcus Amphitheater on Sunday night is a somewhat downsized Big Mac. It's the classic '70s lineup of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood minus Christine McVie, who has chosen to sit this dance out.

Her loss is not insignificant. Her presence gave Fleetwood Mac the rare asset of three strong writers and singers. Not having her on hand takes a few great tunes out of the mix. But more important, she served as a less splashy counterpoint to the flamboyance of Buckingham and Nicks. They are such strong, theatrical personalities that it was helpful to turn the spotlight occasionally on a less frenetic presence.

This version of Fleetwood Mac is very much a bipolar phenomenon, with Nicks and Buckingham trading solo bows and tunes. In his youth, Buckingham was so frantic on stage that he sometimes seemed ripe for an exorcism. Surprisingly, he is still hyperactive to the point of distraction. One of the ironies of this band is that the writer who is best versed in classic '60s pop also is the player most inclined toward guitar-shredding excess.

There were several passages Sunday - "I'm So Afraid," in particular - in which Buckingham's guitar-clawing fits of hysteria seemed to be pushing the crowd's patience.

Without Christine McVie, the band is taking some unexpected chances with the set list. There were left-field entries such as the fragile "Beautiful Child" from "Tusk" and "Eyes of the World" from "Mirage."

There also was a decent sampling of songs from the new album. The best of the new tunes such as "Say You Will" and "Say Goodbye" have those irresistible hooks of classic Fleetwood Mac.

Some of the best moments were the quietest. There was a passage in the middle in which Nicks and Buckingham held the stage by themselves for an understated "Landslide" and the tender "Say Goodbye." At one point, Nicks slipped behind Buckingham as he played his guitar and playfully stroked his shoulders. Given all their history, it came across as a warm and genuine human moment.

Nicks still plays the pagan enchantress, but with a little more restraint these days. She did the spinning shawl thing only once, although we did get some of the old wood nymph poses during "Rhiannon." Maturity seems to become her, muting some of the old mannerisms that occasionally pushed her toward self-parody.

So what's the verdict on this version of the Mac? It's a different band and a somewhat lesser act without Christine McVie; a little too noisy in spots and perhaps a bit more given to self-indulgence. But even in diminished form, this is still a band lavishly stocked with talent and in command of a remarkable legacy.

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