It was about a year ago. The classic rock band Fleetwood Mac announced they were getting together to tour. They also announced that their long time singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham would not be joining them. He was fired.
A couple of different stories went around the rumor mill. 1) Buckingham was more interested in doing a solo tour before going out with the band. When he wouldn't change his decision, he was fired. 2) Stevie Nicks had enough of Lindsey and gave a him or me ultimatum. They chose her.
No matter what version is true, the band, which has been fighting and making up for more than forty years, was going on without Lindsey Buckingham.
Once word came that Lindsey was out, longtime fans went nuts. How are they going to replace him? It's not really Fleetwood Mac without him.
Here's what a lot of longtime fans don't realize....the band was formed in 1967. That's almost a decade before Lindsey and Stevie joined up. In more than fifty years, they've had eighteen members. The real constants are Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Those are the guys that the band is named for. As long as they're around and performing, the name is going to stick. Mick, John and a few assorted others could be Fleetwood Mac. It's happened before, it could happen again.
As far as replacing Buckingham, it took a couple of guys. Mike Campbell, best known as the lead guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, is doing the same thing with FM. He's one of the great guitarists in the rock world. While his style is different from Buckinham's, he's certainly his equal as a player. The guitar parts have been easily replaced.
A singer was needed to fill the void left by Buckingham's absence. They hired Neil Finn for that position. You may know the New Zealand musician from the bands Split Enz and Crowded House.
The guy people were saying couldn't be replaced was replaced. It was time for Fleetwood Mac to take their act on the road.
They came to the United Center last night for the second time on this tour. The set list had a few changes from their October concert but not many. You'll get twenty-four songs that you know and love from the mid-1970's-early 1980's. There are a few surprises as they bring back a couple of the very early Fleetwood Mac classics, plus a song from the Tom Petty catalog. If you're there to relive the past and hear "Say You Love Me", "Rhiannon", "Landslide", "Don't Stop", etc, don't fret, you're getting them all. These guys know what you want and aren't going to let you pay $100-300 or more for a ticket and let you walk away disappointed.
As for the music itself, there's some struggling with the voices. Christine McVie has trouble hitting all the notes when she does her songs. Chris is now seventy-five years old, so that's to be expected. Neil Finn does a good job handling the Buckingham songs. Yeah, it's not Lindsey but it's better than good enough. Stevie Nicks is still Stevie Nicks. Her voice is still strong but maybe a little softer than it was in the 1970's. She still dresses the same as she did back then. That gypsy/waif thing she did in her twenties, still works now that she's seventy. That's kinda cool and kind of scary at the same time....and yep, you read it correctly...Stevie Nicks is seventy! The best part of the vocals is when they harmonize.
The musicianship of Fleetwood Mac may be better than ever. Campbell's guitar work is soaring. Fleetwood still gives his drum kit a heavy workout. He did a fifteen minute drum solo during "World Turning", complete with primal screens. He kept yelling to the audience "Are you still with me?" and for most of time we were. Hey Mick, us oldies in the crowd have attention span issues so maybe cut down the drum solo a bit? Thanks in advance.
In addition to the regulars, Fleetwood Mac is backed by additional players. There's background singers, keyboardists, guitars and a percussionist. Fleetwood made sure they were recognized by introducing them all. It's a nice and generous thing to do....something you didn't see when the Eagles came to town and basically had the same backing group of helpers.
So that's your evening with Fleetwood Mac. Is it the greatest show on earth? No. Will you get your money's worth when they come to your town? I guess it depends on how much you spent on tickets, but I'd say yes. And if you really miss Lindsey, after the show is over, go home, get out your old vinyl records and put on "Rumors."
Related Post: Stevie Nicks and the circle of life
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