Neil Finn grateful to be wooed by Mick Fleetwood
It was an "elaborate invitation" extended by Mick Fleetwood that led to Neil Finn joining Fleetwood Mac.
Finn got the call on March 10, 2018, the day he performed Out Of Silence at the "tank farm [Silo Park]" with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
"I was about to go to soundcheck and got a fairly elaborate invitation from Mick. He is prone to talk around things quite a lot, but it was a beautiful invitation and I said, this is too much to give an instant response to, I'll have to think about this overnight, but I've got to do a show tonight as well, so I'll ring you tomorrow," Finn recalls.
The invitation was to "come have a play and see how it felt.''
This isn't some kind of Simon Cowell curated boyband thing."
Finn says "the legacy of Fleetwood Mac is as strong as it is because the band has been a real band from the very beginning and it's gone through a lot of metamorphosis and changes and ups and downs and it's human and it's flawed."
"They knew that with Lindsay [Buckingham], for all the friction and difficulties that had existed between them all, there had been an incredible chemistry between them all that has to do with a real band. They wanted the potential of that to happen into the future and for Fleetwood Mac to have a dynamic sea of possibilities. That's why they put the invitation out to Mike [Campbell] and me, they knew we had been in bands and we get the ethos. "
He pauses for a moment before adding, "all of those things plus family going, 'What, so you're not going to stand in a room with Fleetwood Mac and sing songs with them!?'" contributed to the yes he gave when they made the offer.
Finn's position as one of New Zealand's most successful, respected and talented musicians makes it easy to assume he might downplay the significance of the gig, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Finn is grateful beyond words. Blessed, even.
"I never saw it coming at all. It completely came from left field," he says.
"I really celebrate the fact that life dished up this opportunity for me and I'm really grateful for it. I feel blessed to be asked, but I also think in a way I've kept the flame within my own being for music and the compulsiveness of what I do, and there's been times when people have tuned in and times when people haven't tuned in, but I keep doing it because I can't help it. I think this little gift that's been given to me is in part a recognition of the fact I've put my heart and soul into it, and it hasn't gone unnoticed."
Finn announced he was joining the band in April, tweeting: "Snow warnings for parts of the country, the mystery of Stonehenge solved and yes I've joined Fleetwood Mac."
In the months since, he's split his time between touring with Fleetwood Mac, and touring with his son Liam in support of their album Lightsleeper, something he says has been "a wonderful counterpoint to the Fleetwood Mac thing."
Nestled in between some of the band's biggest hits, Kiwi fans attending Fleetwood Mac's upcoming New Zealand shows can expect to hear a particularly special take on a piece of Kiwi music history: Stevie Nicks and Finn performing the Crowded House hit Don't Dream It's Over.
"The fact they wanted to do Don't Dream It's Over - and we've done [Split Enz hit] I Got You on a few occasions - it had to really work within the parameters of Fleetwood Mac. I really think it does, and it's a huge blast to be singing Don't Dream It's Over with Stevie," Finn says.
The group rehearsed for two months before heading out on the US leg of the tour in 2018. It was there they decided a piece of Finn and a piece of Mike Campbell should be included in the set. Tom Petty classic Free Fallin' is a little piece of Campbell's history (he was a former member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), and Don't Dream It's Over a piece of Finn's.
In Finn's words, "It blows me away."
"The fact we get to sing Don't Dream It's Over, and people in the room know it - they know the song and they really embrace it as part of a Fleetwood Mac show - it's kind of weird. The phones come out and the lights go on. It's fantastic."
The conversation veers back to gratitude over and over, because for all of his successes, the novelty will never wear off.
"I'm just feeling really happy and blessed to be playing songs that are undeniably touch stones for people... It's a magical exchange. I never get tired of it and I will never take it for granted."
Fleetwood Mac will perform at at Auckland's Spark Arena on September 16 and 19, and Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 21. General sale tickets will be available to purchase from midday on January 25 via Ticketmaster.