[NOTE: in Jalepzerz' never-ending quest to bring you only the finest in music journalism, the following is a review of a recent Fleetwood Mac show attended by my good pal, Beafvy. Enjoy!]
When Tuddd and the staff at Jalepzerz call, you answer, and that's why for the first time since college I'm writing a piece of prose that is not an e-mail. Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the reunited (again) Fleetwood Mac (minus Christine) at American Airlines Center in Dallas and will do my best to put into words my feelings before, during and after the show. A little advanced preview: I liked it....A LOT.
Got off work at 5PM after a long day, grabbed my partner-in-crime Whole Wheatt Muffin (from here on referred to as WWM) and headed to Dallas at 6, which is now a 40 minute drive from where I'm living. Found some rich dude on CraigsList looking to dump 2 tickets at the 11th hour. Turns out he had 2 in Row A, commonly referred to as OLD MAN SEATS (OMS!), 300 level directly facing the stage which he was willing to sell for $100 below face. Score! Snagged the tickets, headed to the lot. Arrived about an hour prior to show time and slammed some craft beer, most notably Hoptimum by Sierra Nevada. Got into the venue with a nice buzz -- ready to "rock the eff out."
A little background before delving into the details of the show. I'm unsure of how I came to truly appreciate the music of Fleetwood Mac. I did not grow up with them as a staple in my house, so there's no sentimental value for me there a la Springsteen, Hi Infidelity, Boz Scaggz, my "dad's" favorite Colin Hay, every crappy alt-rock band from the late 90s, etc. I saw them once almost 10 years ago and thought they were very good, if not earth shatteringly awesome in the live setting. Additionally, I am not a Tusk revisionist who will try to sell you on what a brilliant left turn Tusk was for Fleetwood Mac following Rumours, although I tried to be. Obviously it's their excellent hit-writing ability, Lindsay's guitar work, the drama, the drugs, Christine's voice and the legend that is Stevie. One last thing before the review -- I highly recommend the book Storms by Carol Ann Harris -- Lindsay's girlfriend after Stevie. It has to be considered the definitive account of the Mac, and it's written by someone who was in their inner circle. It's a real page turner!
Anyway... preshow music included what I thought was an instrumental version of Lindsay song "Bleed to Love Her," which might be the first time I've heard a band use their own song in the pre-show selection.
Onto the live stuff, they began the set with "Secondhand News," which is your aperatif before the ~25 course meal that the band is about to serve you. They proceeded to jump right into the big guns -- "The Chain," followed by "Dreams" and "Rhiannon," with a break in between for pleasant new song "Sad Angel." The first thing that strikes me during the performance of "The Chain" is that the band is very sharp, especially in the vocal department. The sound is loud and clear and decidedly "not canned." "Rhiannon" contains a nice little vocal outro by Stevie, who's definitely still got it. Stevie and Lindsay maintain their tremendous, fucked up, fractured stage chemistry after all these years and I'm just blown away by how crisp they sound and how great the vocal harmonies are four-plus decades into their career.
Lindsay on the mic for the next section, where we get our Tusk mini-set. Lindsay song "Not that Funny" is a bit of a tuneless dud. This is followed by Tusk's title track with drawn out repetition of the iconic hook, complete with Chuck Berry-esque "duck walk" stage antics by Lindsay and psychedelic video footage of the USC marching band. They could play the main musical phrase of this song repeatedly for half an hour and I'd leave (at least somewhat) happy. Next up, Stevie's 2 ballads from Tusk "Sisters of the Moon" and "Sara" -- not my favorites, but her dedication to the material sold it and Lindsay's riffing in the background of "Sisters" was nice. This was by far the favorite part of the show for the lesbians to the right of me. Heavy presence of lesbians at both Mac shows I've been to FWIW.
And back to the hits. For this section of the show, a large curtain is dropped from the rafters and Lindsay and Stevie are projected XXXL style onto the curtain. This was a nice touch. "Big Love" showcased Lindsay's excellent banjo-inspired fingerpicking technique, "Landslide" was your Stevie showcase, with some of the evening's strongest vocals, followed by "Never Going Back Again" featuring more of Lindsay's intricate fingerpicking. Pissbreak for another pleasant new track "Without You" and then they go into their late-ish period hit "Gypsy" from their Mirage album, a personal fave. While it was excellent to hear, what I wouldn't give to hear Lindsay jam on the outro guitar solo for another few minutes. A five song run ended the main set, containing "Gold Dust Woman" (explained to WWM as Stevie's song about "being a cokehead witch") and "I'm So Afraid" with Lindsay in full guitar god shredding mode and "duck walk reprise." Quick commentary on Lindsay -- he's gotta be the most underappreciated guitarist out there, no? "Go Your Own Way" closes this thing down. A classic tune to be sure, but I keep my distance, as the last time I saw the Mac this song ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy for a past relationship. I decided here to scale back the "rockin out" in deference to simply beholding the power of aforementioned cokehead witch.
Encore was "Don't Stop," a rousing crowd pleaser followed by "Silver Springs," possibly the band's biggest stunner (abhorrently left off of Rumours by Mick Fleetwood). This version, like most I'm sure, builds perfectly to the crest of the first chorus and then just takes us home from there. They played "Say Goodbye" after this, but WWM and I left to beat the traffic and start the 40 minute drive a little early. How many times did I say "UH-MAY-ZING" after the show? Quite a few. Most "in awe" and "spellbound" I've been at a show in a long time, this side of Phish.
One last note before I end this overlong piece. Mick Fleetwood had a spot towards the end of the main set where he introduced the band, giving a fairly nice tribute to Stevie and Lindsay as well as John McVie ["the backbone of the band"]. Fittingly, nobody in the band did the "and here's Mick Fleetwood!" bit. Good thing because Mick is a fucking stiff. I have an ongoing debate with the founder of this blog about who holds the honor of worst drummer in major rock band history: Mick or Ricki Rockett from Poison. It's a close race, but needless to say if this band has an AVERAGE drummer the show could have been even better. Mick is like a 2 year old with cerebral palsy banging on toy drums and pots and pans -- no sense of rhythm, no fills, nothing interesting. He even somehow managed to just forget to play the "thunder bang" drum part right before the chorus in "Dreams," his ONE notable (admittedly awesome) contribution to this all-time great band. All that said, on this evening the band could not be derailed by the deficiencies of their incompetent dickhead drummer as they found a way to truly "translate and transcend."
Thanks for indulging me!