On the Beat: What happened with Fleetwood Mac

Over the years, I’ve seen club and small venue shows abruptly derailed for everything from power failures and instrument breakdowns to objects being thrown at the band and a singer passing out on stage.

But until Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena, I’d never seen an arena show suddenly end.

That, of course, is what happened when Mick Fleetwood was stricken with the stomach flu, forcing Fleetwood Mac to end its show after about 90 minutes.

Based on a series of conversations, here’s what I’ve pieced together about what happened Saturday.

The night before the Lincoln concert, Fleetwood acknowledged, when speaking to the crowd at St. Paul, Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center that he had been feeling under the weather during that show. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that it was rumored Fleetwood had been getting an IV and oxygen before that show.

Fleetwood began the Lincoln show, walking out onto the stage, throwing his arms into the air and yelling. Then settled in at his drum kit where, from my vantage point, he appeared to be in fine form.

Then, after leaving the stage for a planned break during three acoustic songs performed by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood was, according to Nicks’ on-stage statement, throwing up backstage. He was given fluids at the arena and transported to Bryan West Campus for further treatment and evaluation. A statement released by Fleetwood Mac’s management stated that he had contracted the stomach flu.

Band members, particularly Buckingham, were upset that the show had to stop, expressing that in conversation with arena staff and, for Nicks, to the crowd.

After initial thoughts of immediately stopping the show, drum tech Steve Rinkov was recruited to fill in for Fleetwood on “Go Your Own Way,” and the show ended with Christine McVie and Buckingham doing “Songbird,” the tour’s concluding song.

Fortunately, for the band and Fleetwood, the tour had three nights off after Lincoln.

Fleetwood Mac performed as scheduled Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where critic John Serba noted Fleetwood’s illness in his review:

“‘World Turning’ featured Fleetwood playing a pointless drum solo, too long by half; at least he showed no signs of the stomach flu that derailed the band’s Saturday concert in Lincoln, Nebraska.”

The abrupt ending raised three questions for which I’ve attempted to find an answer this week:

First, will there be refunds? The answer to that is no. The 90-minute performance more than fulfilled Fleetwood Mac’s contract. The shows have been running 2½ hours. But that amount of time was not required of the band.

Nor is there, as some have tried to claim, a “contract” between the ticket buyer and the arena/promoter/band for a 2½-hour show. The length of the show was not known nor stated when tickets were purchased.

Second, why didn’t the show continue with Rinkov on drums or go “unplugged” and play without a drummer? Again, it’s simple. The band had not rehearsed with Rinkov, and it’s impossible to know whether he knew the other eight unplayed songs remaining on the set list. Plowing forward with Rinkov could have resulted in a musical train wreck of the highest order in front of 14,000 people, a risk that no band would take.

Playing “unplugged” would have been even more difficult. Doing drumless arrangements without rehearsal would have been difficult if not impossible, and an “unplugged” treatment would have required different microphones and sound treatment for instruments that very likely weren’t available Saturday.

And the related question of “Why don’t they have a backup?” is ridiculous.

Third, will there be a “make-up” show in Lincoln? During her statement after Fleetwood became ill, Nicks said “We will come back. You’ll get one-and-a-half full-on shows. We will come back. We’re so sorry.”

Fleetwood Mac’s American tour is scheduled to run through April 11, with the final show scheduled in Las Vegas.

There would be multiple logistics problems in scheduling a Lincoln show. First, a date would have to be found based on the availability of the arena. That would, obviously, require extending the tour.

Arena tours are scheduled to end on a specific date, and many of the crew and often much of the equipment are set to go to another tour shortly thereafter. That makes extending a tour difficult and expensive.

If that decision were made, even more complications enter the picture. Would the show be sold at standard prices? Would any provision be made for ticket holders from Saturday’s show to purchase tickets for the second performance? After all, those are the people who were disappointed when Saturday’s show ended early.

Those questions haven’t been addressed and I have no knowledge of a make-up show date being discussed.

Because of the logistical issues, and earlier statements by Buckingham that imply this could be the final Fleetwood Mac tour, my guess is there won’t be a “make-up” show. And, it’s likely that Saturday’s concert will turn out to be Fleetwood Mac’s final Lincoln appearance.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.

L Kent Wolgamott / Journal Star / Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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