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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac's body language fosters rumours

Monday, May 12, 2003

By Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette Weekend Editor

Was that a Fleetwood Mac concert or a Meg Ryan movie?

Sure, they have their own lives and families now, and it's been a long time since they were a pair, but you couldn't help wondering watching the band on stage if Lindsey Buckingham was going to get the girl in the end.

Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who were a hot item during the '70s, spent Saturday night at the Mellon Arena looking across the stage at each other exchanging heartbreaking lines that they obviously wrote about their own tangled affair.

Through 25 songs and two and a half hours, the band members said little to the crowd, which made it all the more startling when Buckingham stopped to confide, "It's not easy for couples who had broken up to work together. ... It was only after I left in the mid-'80s that I could get closure," and with that he introduced "Say Goodbye," a new song during which he looked over at her and sang, "Oh, I let you slip away, there was nothing I could do/That was so long ago still I often think of you."

The soap opera that is Fleetwood Mac added a layer of intrigue to a show that would have held up musically with or without it. This was the third gig of the band's first tour since '97, and it wasn't just because they had a decent new album that it didn't come off like a money grab or a nostalgia play.

Both the band (minus Christine McVie) and the crowd still seem to be sufficiently haunted by the black magic in the songs.

Buckingham, despite not being road tough, plays and sings with real passion and guts. His guitar jams on the showcase songs, such as the new "Come," "I'm So Afraid" and "Go Your Own Way," rivaled the best of Neil Young or Richard Thompson. Throughout the evening, he hit every riff just right, whether it was linking "The Chain" or picking out the intricate acoustic parts on "Big Love." Although his voice may not be the same pristine instrument it once was -- it gets a little craggy -- he's still a compelling singer.

As for Nicks, she holds the mystique, even having hit the half-century mark, and even moving, as she does, as if she has lead in her heels. It took her a while to get into the show, but she came around about the time "Rhiannon" kicked in, and she built the climax to that song as if it were all new to her.

She donned a gold, beaded shawl for a stunning version of "Gold Dust Woman," becoming the "dragon," "gypsy" and "black widow" that she was singing about. Perhaps the most moving moment of the evening was a more honest one, when on "Landslide," she broke into a rare smile as she sang "And I'm getting older, too."

The foursome -- including the namesakes of this old blues-rock outfit, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie -- had major backup in the form of two guitarists, one keyboard-guitarist, two backup singers, a percussionist and a second drummer (why?). When they all played together, they were an arena-rock bombshell on songs like "Tusk" and "Don't Stop," a reminder of the good old days of the Clinton years and one of the few flat-out happy songs in the set.

They sounded better really when they broke it down into more intimate groupings, whether it was Buckingham-Nicks on "Landslide," the core group on "Never Going Back Again" or Fleetwood with the percussionist, doing a drum solo that -- surprise -- was actually fun.

All these years later, Fleetwood and McVie must still be counting their blessings that they stumbled upon Buckingham and Nicks, who, in middle age, haven't lost their ability to mesmerize and fascinate. They came on and off the stage holding hands. At one point, they embraced and kissed. And throughout, the ghost of their past hovered on almost every line.

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