Review: Fleetwood Mac, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, November 10, 2015
About 30 seconds into a song called “Tusk,” Fleetwood Mac stumbled. Like someone who’d lost their place on a page in a book, the band stopped. “We’re going to say we’re not perfect, and we’re going to start that one again, OK?” lead guitarist Lindsey Buckhingham said.
Until then, a full house at Boondall wanted badly for the show to be great. But it wasn’t. It was pedestrian at worst, ordinary at best.
One of the world’s greatest bands seemed to be going through the motions, playing like it was the 114th concert on a long two-year roadtrip.
Chart-toppers “Rhiannon,” “Everywhere” and “Dreams” had all been rolled out, and it was Fleetwood Mac. They had to be brilliant, right? There was nothing horrible about the first few songs – it was certainly no Meat Loaf moment.
There was just no sparkle – at least not until the second the band hiccupped. When the group hit silence – a musical brick wall – something magic happened. It was like they’d been given a wake-up call, a nudge to say they were slightly off their game, an embarrassing kick in the guts.
Whatever it was, the on-stage mood changed. Their energy lifted. Each member of the band found something special. No longer were they motioning through a set of songs. They began to engage – with the audience, and with each other.
Stevie Nicks, who was previously more worried about her ear pieces as she hobbled around the stage in platform heels a size too small, suddenly commanded the stage.
Her shoes looked like they fit again. The queen of rock was back, sliding around the floor, spreading the wings of her black and gold shawls, swinging her flowing blonde locks in front of the wind machine, and reminding everyone why her voice had been regarded such a distinguishable commodity for more than 40 years.
No longer was she just singing songs. She was telling stories, as songwriters of the ’70s demanded their artists must do.
“Tusk” was the eighth song of the set. And while the first attempt was botched, the audience spreading at least three generations was highly forgiving.
Buckingham ensured the second time around was superb, as was his “Big Love” guitar solo shortly after, befitting of a man Rolling Stone included in the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
The 65-year-old is not a household name like Nicks, but he is the musical brains behind the operation. And he reminded people that the band’s imperfections were sometimes what helped them connect with so many people.
Part of the band’s appeal, he said, was that they had put their personal lives – not always intentionally – “out there for people to scrutinise”.
Buckingham and Nicks, who kissed and held hands through the performance, were of course once an item.
“We had to deal with those difficulties and one way was to write songs to each other, and about one another,” he said. “And we’re still here. Within these five people, there’s a great deal of love.”
Christine McVie, the lesser-known voice of so many Fleetwood Mac hits, and before married to bass guitarist John McVie, had been in hiatus until this tour. Her voice too seemed to change a key after the “Tusk” mishap. Her closing piano solo of “Songbird” was as beautiful as ever.
And Mick Fleetwood on drums, with his Santa Claus-type beard, receding hairline and grey pony tail, is quite simply the grandfather everyone ever wanted to have.
His black vest, red bandana around his neck, white T-shirt and bright pink leather shoes proved that while he might have lost a few follicles, he’s lost none of his cool.
His drum solo which kicked off the encore during song “World Turning” was as epic as it was entertaining. Fleetwood is a showman of the highest standard, and his closing line was apt: “One might say much fun was had by all.”
You Make Loving Fun
Second Hand News
Bleed to Love Her
Say That You Love Me
Never Going Back
Think About Me
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way
Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)
Simon Holt / Sydney Morning Herald / Thursday, November 12, 2015