[The Nicks Fix]

Pioneer Press
June 20, 2003

MUSIC REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac pumps out past tunes, shows new promise

By Rob Hubbard

Fleetwood Mac knows America's dirty little secret about the '70s. No, it's not the rampant drug use and promiscuity that boomers hem and haw about when confronted by their kids.

What the reunited members of Fleetwood Mac (sans Christine McVie) know is that it wasn't really the happy time that pop culture revisionism sometimes portrays it to be. After Vietnam and Watergate, the youth of America weren't in the mood for carefree celebrations. There was a sadness to the era that came to be called a "national malaise" by the president. And one of the reasons that Fleetwood Mac ruled the pop chartsis that they tapped into America's troubled soul.

Thursday night at St. Paul's sold-out Xcel Center, the reunited band's darker impulses came to the fore repeatedly. Over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour concert, a kind of cathartic wallowing settled over the proceedings, be it from Stevie Nicks' melancholy tales of doomed love or Lindsay Buckingham's fret-stretching electric guitar explosions. In a show that gained energy and excitement as it went along, the band proved that it isn't just out on the road for nostalgia and money: Both of the remaining songsmiths, Buckingham and Nicks, have some good writing left in them, and Buckingham's unique guitar prowess demands to be heard.

Without the leavening brightness of Christine McVie, most of the remaining Fleetwood Mac catalog comes in a frosty blue shade, delivered in minor keys and haunting moods. But the band was at its best Thursday when re-imagining some of the older material, be it Nicks creating almost entirely new lyrics for "Rhiannon" or Buckingham delivering electrifying guitar solos that only held a vague similarity to the recorded originals.

Buckingham's spectacular guitar work may be what lingers longest from Thursday night's show, which was considerably more spirited than 1997's reunion tour performance at Minneapolis' Target Center. The difference? Perhaps it's that that seemed a nostalgia trip, and now the band exudes an excitement about performing again.

At least that seemed to be the case with Buckingham from the first strains of "The Chain" to the final chords of the last encore. Stevie Nicks, on the other hand, took some time to get into the mood. Some of the band's biggest hits to emerge from her pen received perfunctory readings, and the large-screen projections only served to emphasize the boredom in her eyes as she coasted through "Dreams" and "Gypsy." However, songs from the band's new album (the first fresh material Buckingham and Nicks have created together since 1987) seemed to eventually spark Nicks' performing aplomb to life. By the time she reached the dark disillusion of "Gold Dust Woman," she was her old whirling, shawl-clad self again.

Who: Fleetwood Mac

When: Second show 8 tonight

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul

Tickets: $125-$48

Call: (651) 989-5151

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