CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac goes its own way
RATING (*** out of four)
I guess Lindsey Buckingham should feel flattered when he’s not suing his former bandmates?
Fleetwood Mac came to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Monday night and it took two stellar musicians to replace the singer-guitarist who was fired from the veteran British-American rock band earlier this year and a lawsuit subsequently followed in October.
Anyway, the latest incarnation of the mighty and enduring Mac — whose rotating lineup is hardly new in the band’s 50-year history — sees Crowded House’s Neil Finn, who possess one of the best voices in pop, and guitarist Mike Campbell, who previously played with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, picking up the slack.
There’s actually a total of 11 players including singer Stevie Nicks, singer-keyboardist Christine McVie, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie on the stage making a big beautiful sound during such anthems as “The Chain” — which opened the show — “Second Hand News,” “World Turning,” “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop.”
That doesn’t mean Buckingham, whose solo tour arrives in Kitchener’s Centre in the Square on Nov. 16, wasn’t missed as there is an intensity to both his guitar playing and flinty interplay with his former girlfriend Nicks.
But his absence Monday night meant the band, founded by Peter Green in 1967 and named after Fleetwood and McVie, delved into their back catalogue for such Green and second guitarist Danny Kirwan-era songs as the Santana-popularized “Black Magic Woman” and “Tell Me All The Things You Do,” which truthfully weren’t never really that missed.
The one exception was “Oh, Well” with Campbell taking over on lead vocals and given his guitar a real work out.
Nicks, as usual, was the evening’s undisputed star in her trademark suede black boots, on such standouts as “Dreams,” “Rhiannon,” “Gypsy” (which included a twirl), “Landslide,” and “Gold Dust Woman” working various shawls to wonderful effect.
McVie, surprisingly, was the weakest vocal link despite sounding solid last year while on tour with Buckingham of all people (including a summer stop at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage), although she spoke the most poignant words of the night while introducing the final and older song, “All Over Again.”
“This is a song about change, about surviving change, and the future,” she said.
Much to the crowd’s delight, Finn trotted out the Crowded House gem, “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” with Nicks taking a turn on one verse, and there was also a tribute to Petty in the encore with Nicks singing lead vocals on his hit, “Free Fallin’” while pictures of him (and often Nicks together) appeared on the back video wall.
“It’s wonderful to be in your fair city with this magnificent band,” said Finn, whose only false step came during a rough start to “Monday Morning.”
In a way, this is more of a supergroup than just Fleetwood Mac’s latest lineup change and given they’re already set to return to Scotiabank Arena on April 8, you never know what new twist might just come next.
Fleetwood Mac commands the Toronto stage, even without Lindsey Buckingham
The polite thing to do would be to look the other way and simply pretend nothing out of the ordinary was going on.
Fleetwood Mac is Fleetwood Mac, however, so a little soap-opera drama is to be expected along with the hits. And while the veteran transatlantic rock outfit did its best to make a show of how kicking Lindsey Buckingham out of the band earlier this year was no big deal, it only made it seem like a bigger deal.
In a sense, missing a crucial member or two is nothing out of the ordinary for Fleetwood Mac. Of the original 1967 lineup, only drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie remain, after all, and both Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie (along with Buckingham himself) have left the group and returned to the fold at odd points over the past 40 years or so. Nevertheless, Monday’s show at Toronto’s sold-out Scotiabank Arena found the band being almost stridently blasé about the fact that, for reasons that remain rather fuzzy — not to mention the subject of a lawsuit since filed by Buckingham — it had recently fired the songwriter and the voice behind some of its most recognizable tunes.
Buckingham has kind of had the last laugh, anyway, since it’s taken two musicians to replace him: former Crowded House/Split Enz singer Neil Finn on the vocal front and Mike Campbell, the late Tom Petty’s longtime right-hand man in the Heartbreakers, in the guitar-god department. But just to make sure we all knew that it was business as usual in Fleetwood Mac, the band opened with “The Chain,” one of Buckingham’s signature songs from Rumours. And, to some extent, it was business as usual. Finn could certainly hold down the vocal parts, as he would do two songs later on “Second Hand News” and at the very end of the two-and-a-half-hour set on the crowd-pleasing whoppers “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop,” while Campbell dropped a scorching mini-solo on the outro to allay any fears that we’d be denied six-string fireworks.
Campbell is far less a passenger than Finn in this particular iteration of Fleetwood Mac, which is actually padded out to 11 members when one includes the second percussionist, two backup singers, the extra keyboardist and the third guitarist arrayed around the principals. He took on his role as lead guitarist with vigour on Monday, dirtying up the arrangements with raunchy guitar tones that were more in line with the band’s bluesy beginnings than Buckingham’s finesse playing, and even taking lead vocals on a gnarly version of founding member Peter Green’s “Oh Well.”
Finn feels a bit more like a karaoke singer, although the band did let him take the reins for Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” just to demonstrate that he had a life before he was imitating Lindsey Buckingham for a living.
Green, of course, was no doubt invoked to make a point about a lot of people passing through the ranks of Fleetwood Mac over the years, just as former guitarist Danny Kirwan — who died this past June — was invoked by way of introduction on his “Tell Me All the Things You Do,” another pre-Buckingham/Nicks gem that found its way into the set list.
Truth be told, refreshing the ranks certainly didn’t hurt Monday’s performance. Fleetwood Mac is a reliably solid live entity, no matter who’s onstage, and the band does indeed appear to be relishing the new energy at the moment. You could only miss Buckingham so much, even if you wanted to miss him.
It’s arguably all about Stevie Nicks, anyway. When Fleetwood went around the stage to introduce each of his bandmates — this would be after his torturously long drum solo in the middle of “World Turning,” by the way — only the perpetually humble and quiet John McVie came close in terms of audience reaction. The screams for Stevie were deafening. And, man, can she still hold it down.
Christine McVie sounded a little wan when she took the mike for “Little Lies” and “Everywhere,” but Nicks’s voice was huge and still in impossibly good shape on “Rhiannon,” a feminized version of Green’s “Black Magic Woman,” her solo hit “Gypsy” and a bare, beautiful late-set reading of “Landslide.” She prowled the stage like a panther conjuring some major voodoo vibes, too, during a truly menacing attack on “Gold Dust Woman” — anchored, fittingly enough, by fellow fan favourite John McVie’s rumbling bass line — that easily won out as the most show-stopping moment of the night and probably should have ended the set.
No one, of course, was getting out of there without hearing “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop,” but they seemed a little anticlimactic after such a beast of a tune — especially when the guy behind them wasn’t actually onstage. But by that point, it had become rather easy to overlook Buckingham’s absence and simply enjoy what was a very good arena-rock show. And, hey, Stevie came back to pay tribute to her old pal Tom Petty with Campbell on an unnecessary, but nice enough cover of “Free Fallin’.” If Stevie’s in the room, all can be forgiven.
Verdict: 2 out of 5 – No Buckingham = Not Fleetwood Mac. Period.
Fleetwood Mac Toronto 2018 Review – Is it still the Mac without @LBuckingham?
NOVEMBER 6, 2018 BY T-MAK
Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie – Toronto 2018
The musical soap opera known as Fleetwood Mac rolled into Toronto yet again for another tour but this time without its most important member Lindsey Buckingham whom they fired earlier this year.
Let us begin by saying we are huge Fleetwood Mac fans. We flew out to New Jersey to see the show from front row center and do a VIP meet and greet with Mick Fleetwood. We flew to London’s O2 arena to see them front row again, we saw them at an invite only party at CES in Las Vegas, and the list goes on. Please click on one of the links above to understand the type of coverage we provide.
News broke that Lindsey Buckingham is no longer part of Fleetwood Mac earlier this year, and this tour was announced right after that. While logic would dictate that this tour would not sell many tickets or that perhaps they would be discounted to something reasonable like $100, neither assumption proved to be true. It seems that many people had no idea that Buckingham would not be there and thus jumped in eagerly and it also seems that the band name is much bigger than the individual artists.
There is a trend in that most classic era rock bands tour these days without the golden era vocalists ( some quick example of bands we have seen recently – Yes without Anderson, Journey without Perry, Styx without DeYoung, Foreigner without Gramm, and even AC/DC without Johnson). For whatever reason (9 times out of 10 it is because of $$$), the lead singer (and usually main songwriter), is not there. However Fleewood Mac without Buckingham is a much larger shock than anything above because he is also the main guitarist and the creative genius of everything the band made when they ruled the airwaves.
The really good news is that Buckingham is doing his own local show on Friday November 16th in a much more intimate setting in Kitchener’s Centre In The Square. As at the time of this writing a 20th row ticket in the small theater setting will cost about $80 to see the solo Buckingham show. On the other hand, tickets were still available for Fleetwood Mac at the Scotiabank Arena on the night of the show, and a lovely seat in the back of the 300 sections (i.e. where you so high up and so far back that feel you are watching people watching a concert) was selling for $211.25. Clearly the Kitchener show is a much better choice and yet it is not even sold out yet – the power of the band name proven once again.
Enough preamble… I am sure you know where we are going with this article.
The show kicks off as usual with The Chain and there are two dudes to Nicks’ left instead of the iconic Buckingham. Once the initial notes began I would usually be cheering the band appearance but instead I felt someone had punched me in the gut. This is not Fleetwood Mac playing for their fans or even their love of music. Money makes the world go round and that was the only thought in my head at this point. The video screen above the band had six boxes instead of five showing the various musicians. What was also very obvious is that there are 11 musicians on stage including a backup drummer to Fleetwood and a back up keyboardist to Christine McVie. A very large number of musicians indeed.
While the setlist consisted of the 70’s heyday staples from the Rumours album (Don’t Stop, Dreams, Go Your Own Way, Gold Dust Woman, Second Hand News, The Chain, You Make Loving Fun), and from the Fleetwood Mac album (Landslide, Monday Morning, Rhiannon, Say You Love Me, World Turning) there was nothing from the Buckingham driven Tusk.
The good about the setlist was that we did get to revisit some really old classic Mac blues songs – Oh Well, Tell Me All The Things You Do and Black Magic Woman. Those 3 songs were really the only time I didn’t feel Buckingham’s absence as he was not responsible for their creation or recording. See, there always is a silver lining! One thing that was lacking was Christine McVie’s Songbird to end the night, but we did get a song never played live before this tour to end the night – a duet between McVie and Nicks on All Over Again.
What was really missing tonight was Buckingham staples Big Love and the show stealing I’m So Afraid. Instead the band presents Dont Dream It’s Over by Crowded House and Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty. I do not understand why I am hearing other bands covers at a Fleetwood Mac show? This is just plain wrong and seems like an attempt to cover up Buckingham’s absence. On the positive side thank god that Christine is back in the fold as she carried on with grace, elegance and with a seriously understated charm. Her Little Lies and Everywhere delivered to perfection and her smile never ending.
Nicks of course continued to deliver her standard fare and nobody can get an arena to roar in appreciation with a twirl like she can. She commanded the audience with ease and with no competition for the spotlight she was clearly the main attraction of the show tonight.
5 years ago I wrote this on a Fleetwood Mac show review : “Was tonight a throwback to the excess of the 70’s and a full celebration of the band’s long hair, cigarette stained fingers, bell bottoms and beards? Absolutely, but it was done in a way that romanticized a bygone era both in the failed relationships of the band members as well as the timelessness of their music.” If you understand that comment from half a decade ago, then you understand what was wrong with the 2018 version of Fleetwood Mac. The legacy that Buckingham and Nicks created was not there and for me Fleetwood Mac of 2018 has lost a lot of the rage and passion that made them what they are.
What really seemed odd to me was that the crowd in front of the stage was sitting most of the night. I have never seen that at a concert before and certainly not at a Fleetwood Mac show. It really felt like a snoozefest at times and I was one of the very few people that stood up the whole show (I was in the 5th row). The image below shows how most of the night was.
Audience during Second Hand News – Toronto 2018
My words may sound like whining and I have already been called a “sourpuss” on Twitter over my comments during the show, but I feel it is important that a reality for many Fleetwood Mac fans be given a voice. Newspapers and mass media will continue their four out of five star generic reviews and in the end my words wont make any difference at all. Toronto was totally sold out for the show tonight and due to “popular demand” the band will be back in April of 2019 for yet another sure to be sold out show. However I truly feel this is one of the most important reviews I have ever written because of the importance of Buckingham and his contribution t this band.
Once upon a time I told myself I wont waste time writing negative reviews. After all this website is created for a passion of what we call #RealRock and there is good in every show that we attend. It is with absolute respect for Neil Finn and Mike Campbell as musicians we publish this article, but sometimes it is important for people to know what they are getting. To be honest I did not want to go to this show at all but curiosity got the best of me and after reading all the mass media articles about how great this tour was I had to witness it for myself. It seems there is some paid content being generated (for example look at this non factual garbage in an Ottawa newspaper). While it was a fun night out, I am really waiting for next Friday for the Buckingham show to really get my positive vibe back on.
All of this of course is my personal opinion and I am sure there were many that enjoyed the show much more than I did, but I am hoping that those people can acknowledge that an irreplaceable part of the chain was missing.
Fleetwood Mac Toronto November 5 2018
Verdict: 2 out of 5 – No Buckingham = Not Fleetwood Mac. Period.
We leave you with some photos from the night:
Review – Terry Makedon
T-Mak World: Toronto’s Site for Music, Movies and Culture
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"kind of weird: a tribute to the dearly departed from a band that can treat its living like trash"
Last edited by elle : 11-06-2018 at 05:31 PM.
You make loving fun, GDW, GYOW (19 mins from tha rafters)
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