Later this year a remodelled Fleetwood Mac will tour Australia, Lindsey Buckingham replaced by Mike Campbell and Neil Finn, Christine McVie firmly ensconced after returning to the stage in 2015, and Stevie Nicks probably the happiest she’s been in decades (which may or may not have something to do with the absence of the aforementioned L. Buckingham).
Reviews suggest this might be the best the band have sounded, and felt, in a very long time.
One thing which will very likely be unchanged is the moment in the show when Mick Fleetwood flies solo. As this review from 2004 remembers, rather vividly it must be said with something of a shudder, it’s a moment that is, well, singular.
Sydney Entertainment Centre, March 4
Call it the Lesley Gore approach.
You've been doing this music lark for 40-odd (often very odd) years, your always beaming-with-wonder-and-gratitude face sweetly showing that you can't quite believe that people still want to see you doing it. You've survived the kind of physical and mental health challenges that not even the producers of Survivor would replicate for their contestants.
Jeez, you even survived an affair with a band member who had split from another band member (though not the one who divorced yet another band member who was a booze hound; or the band member who went mad; or the band member who joined a religious sect; or the band member who had chronic stagefright; or even the band member who had an affair with your wife).
Oh yeah, and that's your moniker in the band name too. Bugger it, it's my party and I'll cry - or in this case, play a drum solo - if I want to.
Mick Fleetwood is a stoic, clearly glass half full kind of man who loves this band he's drummed for since 1967. Along with long-time mate and bassplayer John McVie, he's provided the frame upon which songwriters from Peter Green to Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks have flourished.
He is a decent drummer who like most decent drummers should not be encouraged to play a drum solo. But no one stopped Fleetwood from taking up 15 minutes of the first encore to play a drum solo (on both kit and electronic body percussion strapped to his vest) of staggering length and banality that was punctuated by his wails and enthusiastic gibbering and that climaxed with barking. Yes, barking.
This self-indulgence could almost have been forgiven if it wasn't for the fact that excess marked and marred too much of a concert that was not without highlights.
Once too often Buckingham played a guitar solo that went on beyond its natural life and looked faintly ridiculous as he ``freaked out'', banging the guitar and throwing it to the ground. One too many songs from the solid but uninspiring recent album Say You Will punctuated the night (sadly McVie wasn't there and so her great songs such as You Make Loving Fun were also absent).
And, considering one of the great strengths of Fleetwood Mac at their `70s height was the way the three voices of McVie, Nicks and Buckingham blended and played off each other, too often up to seven voices filled out the sound and left individuality behind. Maybe it's because Nicks - who looks remarkably unlined and fixed of expression - no longer has the upper register of her youth but it did make for blandness.
The flabbiness meant that inside the two-and-a-half-hour show, crying to be let out, was a tight 75-minute concert that would have been hit-packed, pacey and personal. It isn't a coincidence that apart from the impossible-to-kill pleasures of Don't Stop, a rousing Second Hand News given a bit of big band wellie, and Silver Springs (late in the set, when Nicks after a long break from the stage hit high notes for the first time) the best moments of this night were small scale.
There was Never Going Back Again, done with just the four core members; Big Love, done solo by Buckingham; and Landslide and new song Say Goodbye, performed as duets by Nicks and Buckingham, with Nicks finally sounding fully engaged with the songs.
Good moments those. Pity there weren't more of them.
Fleetwood Mac Australian tour 2019
RAC ARENA, PERTH FRIDAY AUGUST 9
RAC ARENA, PERTH SUNDAY AUGUST 11
QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY THURSDAY AUGUST 15
QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY SATURDAY AUGUST 17
BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE TUESDAY AUGUST 20
BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE THURSDAY AUGUST 22
BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE SATURDAY AUGUST 24
QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY TUESDAY AUGUST 27
QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY THURSDAY AUGUST 29
ROD LAVER ARENA, MELBOURNE MONDAY SEPTEMBER 2
ROD LAVER ARENA, MELBOURNE WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 4
ROD LAVER ARENA, MELBOURNE SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 7
ROD LAVER ARENA, MELBOURNE MONDAY SEPTEMBER 9