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Times Union
Review of May 21, 2003 Fleetwood Mac concert in Albany

Fleetwood Mac powers along

Thursday, May 22, 2003

By GREG HAYMES, Staff writer

ALBANY -- "Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow," sang guitarist Lindsey Buckingham on Wednesday night as Fleetwood Mac roared into the Pepsi Arena, and true to those words, the band spent a surprising amount of time pumping out songs from its new album, "Say You Will."

Of course, they also served up a healthy retrospective of their career hits.

Fortunately, the new album -- the band's first studio recording since 1987 to feature visionary guitarist Lindsey Buckingham -- ranks among the best efforts of a band that has been together for more than 3 decades.

Even without singer-songwriter-keyboardist Christine McVie on board for this tour, Fleetwood Mac delivered a rich cornucopia of catalog hits, including the opening "The Chain," Stevie Nicks' swirling "Rhiannon," the spitfire pop of the show-closing "Go Your Own Way" and the thundering encore of "World Turning."

But the band also tore through a half dozen of the songs from "Say You Will," and several of them -- most notably Buckingham's hook-filled "What's the World Coming To" -- rank with the band's best work.

With Buckingham back at the helm, the band was willing and eager to push the pop envelope. Buckingham passionately drove the band with such gems as the galloping "Second Hand News," the sparkling acoustic blues shuffle of "Never Going Back Again," the hard-driving solo "Big Love" and the guitar freakout of "I'm So Afraid."

His counterpart (and former lover) vocalist Stevie Nicks played a more subdued role on stage, although she scored big with crowd favorites such as "Gold Dust Woman," the cinematically sweeping "Silver Springs" and the riveting "Stand Back."

The key to the band's continued success, however, just might be the relatively unsung rhythm section -- and the band's co-founders -- bassist John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Especially during the beginning of "I'm So Afraid," the titanic duo brought back echoes of their early days when Fleetwood Mac was one of the leaders of the British blues movement of the '60s.

Although the band was bolstered throughout the night by a half-dozen additional musicians and singers, the Mac was sometimes at its best when it pared away the excess and let the songs shine through, as with the haunting, Bic-flicking crowd favorite, "Landslide," performed as a spare acoustic duet by Buckingham and Nicks.

Over the course of their career, the band members have weathered numerous intra-band emotional entanglements. Despite the soap opera-like proportions of their various love affairs, the band has survived and carried on. That in and of itself is stunning. That the band continues to make such powerful pop music is nothing short of a miracle.

FLEETWOOD MAC When: 8 p.m. Wednesday Where: Pepsi Arena, South Pearl Street, Albany. Musical highlights: The acoustic "Landslide," Nicks' "Stand Back," Buckingham's "Come" and "I'm So Afraid". Length: Two hours; no opening act; no intermission. The crowd: A near sell-out of about 14,000 fans, spanning several generations. Last time in town: Fleetwood Mac -- with now absent member Christine McVie -- played the Pepsi on Nov. 26, 1997.

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