June 1, 2003
Review of the May 31st Fleetwood Mac concert in Nashville, TN at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Review: Fleetwood Mac goes its own way to memorable performance
By CRAIG HAVIGHURST
Given the history of personality clashes in rock band Fleetwood Mac, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Saturday night’s Gaylord Entertainment Center show play out among four very different sorts, albeit without any strife. Dour old bassist John McVie (the Mac in the band’s name) was inconspicuous and low-key. Lindsey Buckingham, looking fit in his mid-50s, played the earnest but sensitive guitar god. Stevie Nicks, as one would hope, had ribbons streaming from her tambourine and fringe on her shawls.
But the center of energy and whimsy that made the veteran band’s show so engaging was old Mick Fleetwood, all bug-eyed and smiling, bearded and sweaty and haloed by the big gold gong behind him. With a red kerchief around his throat, his gray beard and his tongue hanging out half the time, he looked like Merlin infected with the enthusiasm of a kid who’d just discovered rock and roll.
The quartet, aided by a couple of background vocalists, two percussionists and a keyboard/guitar section, veered between Buckingham’s hard punching anthemic stuff and Nicks’ folkier, sweeter material, dropping a handful of songs from the new Say You Will revival album in among two and a third hours worth of Me Generation hits. And it worked. Despite a bit of over-pushed volume and shrillness in the sound mix, the staging was elegant and the music rocking. Ovations were standing. Lighters were raised.
Fleetwood launched things with the bass drum pulse of The Chain, which flowed unsurprisingly into Dreams, setting up a strong vocal blend that would sustain the whole night. Peacekeeper, a single off the new album upped the vocal ante with seven or eight singers blending into a lush soundscape. Then the band went acoustic for Never Going Back Again, which came off like an effective country song.
About an hour in, Nicks and Buckingham both grew more intense and focused, he on guitar, she in her husky, nasal and utterly unique voice. That extra dose of energy lit up Gypsy and a Buckingham/Nicks acoustic duo on the much anticipated Landslide. When Nicks donned a red shawl and got all spooky on Gold Dust Woman, it brought the house down. Tusk was a bit of a disappointment, with unconvincing synthesizers doubling for the big brass section.
The set closer, Go Your Own Way, let Buckingham go full-tilt with a wild double paw dog paddle guitar solo that broke his second string of the night. The band came back for a bluesier turn on World Turning that let Fleetwood come out from behind his drums. Not only was he wearing breeches and dangling balls reminiscent of the Rumors cover, his talking drum solo gave way to a trippy performance with his fingertips against electronic drum pads stitched into his vest.
There were two songs left: a celebratory Don’t Stop and a quieter Goodbye Baby. Then they said goodbye with a bow and some good words for a happy throng.