Classic Hits & New Energy: Fleetwood Mac Conquers The Forum
Fleetwood Mac is celebrating 50 years as band with a sprawling 61-date tour of North America. And, as has so often been the case in the band’s tumultuous history, the undergoing isn’t without a little drama. This time around, it comes from the conspicuous absence of Lindsay Buckingham. That could have been a fatal flaw, but he has been replaced with not one, but two iconic musicians. (Mike Campbell, a Heartbreaker who toured with Tom Petty for decades, and Neil Finn of Crowded House fame). Instead of detracting from the spectacle, they bring new energy and passion to the mix.
The new-look band performed the first of three shows at The Forum in Los Angeles last night (December 11), reminding all in attendance that classic rock is not a dirty word. In fact, it’s a dying art form that goes a hell of a lot harder than anything playing on AAA radio in 2018. Fleetwood Mac kicked off the two-hour stroll down memory lane with “The Chain” (one of several songs from 1977’s classic Rumors) and then followed it up with “Little Lies” — a track that arrived exactly a decade later. The fact that they both make perfect sense in the Fleetwood Mac universe is a testament to their versatility and unique perspective.
Another thing that makes the band so special is the explosive dynamic between members. This isn’t a traditional rock outfit with one lead singer hogging all the attention. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie take turns belting out the songs they wrote, while Mick Fleetwood and the newcomers are also given solo moments. It’s a constant (but never aggressive) tug-of-war that makes each member give a little more to keep up. Whether it’s on a languid anthem like “Dreams” or a stomper like “Second Hand News” or “Oh Well,” they are always giving 100 percent.
A great example of the way the band has evolved to let each member shine occurs early in the setlist when Christine nailed “Say You Love Me,” before Stevie took over with “Black Magic Woman.” From the iconic singer/songwriter’s witchy getup to the American Horror Story-esque projection, this was an absolute highlight and a reminder that Fleetwood Mac will never go quietly into the good night. Duties on classic hits “Everywhere” and “Rhiannon” were evenly split, while Mick captained the ship for “World Turning.”
Time has not wearied this man one iota. Mick bashed away at the skins for ten minutes while hallucinatory lighting and screens surely brought on acid flashbacks from the ’70s for many attendees. His skill is otherworldly. Stand-in singer/guitarist Neil Finn enjoyed a tender moment as he belted out Crowded House’s seminal “Don’t Dream It’s Over” to a sea of emotional faces, before Stevie joined him for the final verse and chorus. It was a magical moment that just got better when they segued into “Landslide.”
Just when you thought it was impossible for them to maintain that momentum, the rock legends turned it up a notch with “You Make Loving Fun” and “Gold Dust Woman” (the latter found Stevie twirling around stage in a gold lamé shawl). There wasn’t a butt on a seat for “Go Your Own Way,” which was followed by the briefest of encores. They then paid tribute to the late Tom Petty with a beautiful cover of “Free Fallin” and jammed out to “Don’t Stop.” Iconic doesn’t cut it for this band. The members, old and new, of Fleetwood Mac are ascended masters of rock.