CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac at Prudential Center, Newark, 4/24

(Saed Hindash / Star-Ledger)
(Saed Hindash / Star-Ledger)

By Brittany Spanos
The Village Voice
Thursday, April 25, 2013

Better Than: The idea of the band not reuniting this year at all.

It begins with “Second Hand News” — a song with a title and lyrics probably meant to be a self-deprecating nod to the reunion’s time and place. It’s an entire arena clutching their hearts along to songs that are older than I am and mumbling “angel” with every golden twirl of Stevie Nicks’ body.

It’s a Fleetwood Mac concert in 2013, and it needs less explanation or apologies than one would think.

“This is all your fault,” Nicks told the audience at the show’s end, joking but stern. She was referring to the collection of moments that led to the very one we were experiencing right then. The dreams the band had become and the dreams the band lived thanks to the audience seeing their own dreams in the band’s, or some magical through line similar to that one.

Until that particular monologue, the concert had been a compilation of greatest hits ranging the varied career of varied sounds that Fleetwood Mac enjoys and is still able to revel in with the conviction of an artist celebrating a particularly intimate new release. With “Second Hand News” followed immediately by “The Chain” and “Dreams,” the opener could have easily been an encore with the feverish audience response they each elicited. New songs like “Sad Angel” and show closer “Say Goodbye” were just as welcome to the repertoire, especially after the band revealed the upcoming short EP they will be releasing next week with a grand total of four new songs on it. They were equally sweet musical moments that brought Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s incomparable stage chemistry to the forefront.

This chemistry between the two — famous for many reasons — was a beautifully endearing element to the overall performance. Providing anecdotes to the histories of songs like oldie “Without You” and newbie “Say Goodbye,” each serving as an emotional antithesis to the other, were loving and intimate. They came back onstage for the encores holding hands and braided their voices together in a stunning, velvety manner. One front row fan handed them a vinyl album slip with a cover featuring a young, half-naked version of them. Nostalgia seemingly floated through their eyes.

In a show that was meant to be nothing but highlights, and delivered as such, the moments that catapulted themselves to the forefront were truly surreal. “Big Love,” a Buckingham solo, was mesmerizing with the guitarist’s impassioned and hypnotic finger-picking. Nicks still has it, and sounded flawless during “Rhiannon” and “Gold Dust Woman” as she wailed away with her signature raspy-but-smooth voice. During the latter, the singer came onstage with a shimmering gold shawl and created the illusion of golden wings as the song faded out.

Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were exceptional, per usual. While McVie remained a silent presence on-stage, Fleetwood joked around, made funny faces to the crowd, and played a heart-stopping extended drum solo during “World Turning.” The individual talents that each member brought did, however, make it hard not to notice the absence of Christine McVie, who’s soft but smoky voice would have provided another rich layer to an already grand performance.

“Landslide” featured a particularly poignant moment: With arms triumphantly outstretched, Nicks gave the most valiant delivery of the famous line “…and I’m getting older too.” Fleetwood Mac has experienced an aging that is less comical or just awkward to watch be performed onstage; they’ve grown naturally in a way that feels wise and most certainly bold.

Critical Bias: Stevie Nicks is an angel sent from Heaven, hallowed be her name.

Overheard: “BEAUTIFUL!” – a very aggressively gruff man during the sweet, soft performance of new song “Say Goodbye.”

Random Notebook Dump: A general rule should be: if you’re telling people to sit down at a concert then you should not have gone to the show in the first place. Major shout out to the people in front of us who held their own against some very confused and unnecessarily angry audience members telling them to stay seated.

Setlist:

  1. Second Hand News
  2. The Chain
  3. Dreams
  4. Sad Angel**
  5. Rhiannon
  6. Not That Funny
  7. Tusk
  8. Sisters of the Moon
  9. Sara
  10. Big Love
  11. Landslide
  12. Never Going Back Again
  13. Without You**
  14. Gypsy
  15. Eyes of the World
  16. Gold Dust Woman
  17. I’m So Afraid
  18. Stand Back
  19. Go Your Own Way
  20. World Turning (encore)
  21. Don’t Stop (encore)
  22. Say Goodbye (encore)

**New song