PRESHOW: Going long with Lindsey Buckingham

On Sunday, the Erwin Center welcomes back the classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. This lineup of the group, whose 1977 album Rumours is one of just eight albums to have sold at least 40 million copies, last played the Austin concert arena in 1982, a show we’ll discuss in detail in the Austin360 section of Sunday’s American-Statesman.

We spoke by telephone on Thursday with Lindsey Buckingham, who offered a good bit of detail about the full band’s current reunion as well as some background about their past. What follows is an assemblage of highlights from that conversation.

Austin360/American-Statesman: Four of you had been touring and recording off and on since the 1997 full-band reunion, but this is Christine McVie’s first reappearance since 1998. Why did she decide to return for this tour?

Lindsey Buckingham: When she left, I think she really was just looking for a change. And there certainly has been precedent for this fivesome to have made exits and returns. I did that myself after producing the Tango in the Night album and then did not do the tour. That was for other reasons at the time. But I think with Christine, she was just at a point in her life where she was kind of tired of the whole discipline of recording and writing and touring, and was feeling somewhat ungrounded by that. She’d had a series of relationships that hadn’t held for her, and I think she put some of that down to the kind of life she had to lead and what she had to prioritize. I mean, I’m sure it was way more complex. But basically, back then, she burned all of her bridges in Los Angeles. She sold her house and basically moved back to England, and ensconced herself in a completely different universe.

And I think over a period of time, I think that that had a good healing effect for her, and it sort of came out the other side. And she started to appreciate what this particular family, dysfunctional as it may be, had to offer for her, and how much she shared with us. Because really, you know, for better or for worse, we as a fivesome have been through things together that no one else has been through. On some strange level, we all know each other in a way you’ll never know someone else who’s been through all that.

And I think she really just started to miss it. I think her creative impulses, which had kind of gone into a low ebb at the time that she left, started to bubble up again, and she was excited by that. So she started having conversations with Mick, and Mick started having conversations with me. I got on the phone and had a very long conversation on the phone with her. And she said, well, how would you feel about me coming back? And I said, “Well, Chris, we would love to have you come back. If you want to think of there being a number of acts that can last over a number of years, this could be the beginning of a beautiful last act. The only thing I’d say is, if you come back, you can’t leave again!” (Laughs) So she said, “OK, I won’t.” That was that, and we kind of sealed the deal.

Had the rest of you gotten to where you felt like the band worked well without her?

Oh yeah. We didn’t really miss a beat. When she left, we took a little bit of time off and then went in the studio to make an album back in 2003. And we’ve done a number of successful tours, businesswise and I’d say artistically, as a four-piece. The only difference, really, is that, you know, Stevie’s sort of at one end of the spectrum, she’s representing one pole, I’m representing the other end of that, and Christine is somewhere in the middle. So I think that the body of work speaks more eloquently. I think that it’s a point at which you can take stock of that body of work and appreciate it at this point in time. With her inclusion in it and her songs in there, suddenly you’ve got a more complete landscape. And I think her songs help inform my songs and Stevie’s.

And that’s just on a musical level. Then you’ve got to talk about just the fact that I think on some level, Stevie missed having her gal pal, if you will. And that’s been great. It kind of lightens things up again, because if there’s a polarity musically between Stevie and me, there’s also a bit of a polarity politically or socially, given our history. So it fills in that as well. So yeah, we did great as a four-piece, but I think it’s a more complete picture when Christine is there.

In addition to the tour, there’s apparently a new record in the works. How has that been going?

Well, it’s been going great. It’s sort of piecemeal, in the sense that I went in quite a while ago and cut some tracks with John and Mick, and some of those got put on the shelf for a while. And then when Christine showed up, she and I went in the studio and did quite a bit, maybe seven or eight tracks over the period of about two months in the studio. And that was phenomenal really, because it kind of tapped into something that I had always done for her and for Stevie, in terms of production and co-writing and informing the whole sensibility. When someone like that has been away that long as Christine has, you don’t know if the tools or the context remains. But we locked in with a vengeance and did some of the most creative and beautiful stuff I think we’ve ever done together.

So we’ve got that, and now the missing piece is just Stevie. The tour, and the rehearsals for the tour, had already begun, so, like I say, it’s been a little bit piecemeal. But I think it’s going to be incredible when we finish it. We’ve got quite a bit left to do touring-wise, and then we will sit down and try to formulate some kind of a plan. This is one of the differences between us and someone like the Eagles — I admire the fact that they always seem to know what they want, why they want it, and they all want it at the same time. And we are really just the opposite politically. It’s a wild animal and it’s hard to pin everybody down for a common vision. It’s kind of always been that way, but it’s a little more disparate now than it was back in the day, because everyone sort of wended through their particular journey.

Have you been doing any of the new material at the shows?

No, we’ve been keeping it pretty much under wraps. You know, on the last tour we did before Christine returned, we had done an EP, and we did a couple of things that were new then. But it seemed to us that the message right now, with Christine’s inclusion, which is such a circular thing, it seemed like the message was really, let’s just underscore the body of work. And that’s what we’re doing.

Any chance you’ll write songs on this tour that might end up on the record?

I’m always fooling around with stuff on the road, but as of yet there has not been any formalized interaction in that direction on the road. There is kind of a tendency for everyone to go off to their respective corners. So, as of yet, no. But we still have quite a bit of time. We’ll just have to wait and see. I wouldn’t say there’s been a real sense of urgency for that.

Your show in Austin on Halloween night of 1982 turned out to be the last show this fivesome played together for 15 years, until the reunion for the album “The Dance” in 1997. What do you remember about how you were feeling at that time in general?

Well, I know where my head was beginning to be at. You have to kind of backtrack to a post-Rumours environment, which was this kind of area that we found ourselves in where the success had become not about the music but it had become about the success. And when the phenomenon becomes more noteworthy than the substance about which the phenomenon should really be focused on, you’re into this sort of area where – well, I suppose any kind of success brings on that axiom: “If it works, run it into the ground.” But certainly in the wake of Rumours, there was a strong implication that what we needed to do was go in and make something like “Rumours 2.”

And of course we made Tusk, which, depending on your point of view, I was either the hero or the villain of that story. … That’s still my favorite album; it was the moment at which I felt I had defined the way I still try to think today. But in the wake of the Tusk album, the band – which had slowly gotten drawn into what it was, and was really quite charmed by it and loved it when we delivered it to Warner Bros. – had a rethink on how they felt about it when it didn’t sell 15 million albums. So in the wake of that, then we made Mirage, in which there was this kind of dictate that came down from the other four saying, “Well, we’re not going to do that process again, Lindsey, we’re going to go back to something a little more straight ahead.”

It’s very easy to move forward; it’s harder to deliberately backtrack into something that might have been where you were spontaneously five years before. So this was where I was at the end of the “Mirage” tour. I was kind of a bit disillusioned with some of the collective priorities of the band, a bit disillusioned with the fact that I was now going to have to a solo album – and I had already made one. I probably never would have made any solo albums had there been a band sensibility that continued to applaud the “Tusk” album at the time and continued to want to move in a riskier direction, or at least a braver direction.

So I wasn’t sure where I was going in terms of my function with the band by the time we got done with that tour. Because Mirage, which had some beautiful songs on it, to me felt like we were kind of receding back for the wrong reasons. And it left me as a producer feeling like I was treading water. And I wasn’t sure where all of that was going. I think it took a number of years, and getting through to the Tango in the Night period, for that to hit the wall for me, at which point I did take leave of the band for a while. So there was already some disillusionment for me, as someone who’s maybe tried to live out a principle to a fault, sometimes. But that was kind of the mindset for me by the time we ended the Mirage tour.

Over the past decade, you’ve been able to balance Fleetwood Mac with your solo records and tours. Do you feel like you have the best of both worlds at this point, getting to do both?

Well, yeah, you start to come the realization that the audience that is coming to see you as Fleetwood Mac, isn’t necessarily — not that they aren’t interested in new material, but they’re less interested in new material than they are in the body of work. That’s not inappropriate; if you’ve been around for a number of years, you should feel good if your work has stood up. That’s the other thing about this tour: I think even more so than the 2013 tour, it’s become very clear that that the body of work stood the test of time. We see people who are, you know, I don’t even want to know how old they are, out in the audience. And then you see teenagers. The music has somehow gotten through and made its mark and is continuing to make sense to all ages of people.

So I think we’re living in a moment where we feel that that is the case, and it validates the idea that you can go out and do a body of work, and not necessarily have to keep reinventing yourself as Fleetwood Mac. That doesn’t mean that if you are continuing to want to push your boundaries that you should just settle for not doing that. And that’s where the solo work comes in. The terms I’ve been using are “big machine” and “small machine,” and with the small machine, you reach far fewer people and there’s far less at stake in any sort of business sense of the word. In fact, quite often you’re not really turning much of a profit at all. You’re just going out there and playing for the love of playing, for the people who want to see you do what you do and for the chances you’re willing to take, or whatever it may be.

That’s where the real solo notion continues to thrive, is in the small context. And then hopefully you can bring that back into the larger thing. You can bring the vitality of it, the context of that back into a larger situation. So yeah, I guess in a way I do have the best of both worlds. It’s kind of a tightrope you walk, you know? Not necessarily wanting to fall off on either side. Because probably one would not exist without the other, and one clearly does enable the other. So it’s a pretty fine line there, but yes, I feel very lucky to have all of that. It may be a couple more years before I even think about getting back to anything solo, but, eventually I will.

Quite a few Fleetwood Mac tribute records have been released, and there’s one in particular that I wondered if you heard: Camper van Beethoven redid the Tusk album in its entirety…

“Yeah, I did hear that once. I thought, “Wow, that’s my kind of band!” (Laughs) You get a lot of the groups that are a little more to the left who tend to want to sort of gravitate towards that album a little more. So yeah, that was nice. I liked that.

The one cover version in recent years that had a big run on the charts was the Dixie Chicks’ country-pop crossover hit with “Landslide.” Were you surprised at all that it had such appeal to country audiences?

Not really. It’s a wonderful song, it’s a very accessible song. And Stevie’s whole thing — or some of it, because she can get into something else slightly more modal, and then you put my sensibilities over that as a producer and it moves farther and farther away — but at her center, a lot of what she does is not too far away from country. And “Landslide” is a pretty good example of that. Just as a song, that song certainly lends itself to something like that. So no, it didn’t surprise me at all.

A younger-generation local musician here in Austin told me recently that her entry into the band was the 1997 live album The Dance, which revisited a lot of the old material but may have given it a new life among another generation of music fans. Was that part of the band’s motivation in doing that record?

Well, we did The Dance for a couple of reasons. I think there was talk about making another studio album, but also you have to remember, I’d been away for a while. I had done Tango in the Night in 1987 … but that was really where the behavior set of everyone, and the way we thought we had to lead our lives, was beginning to hit the wall for everyone. The making of that album was the most chaotic and certainly the most intensive study in alternative behaviors, shall we say. So I made the album, we delivered the album, and I said, “I can’t tour with this, I’ve got to sort of regroup and get my feet on the ground.” So I had taken off, they had added a couple of new guitarists, and the band for whatever reason did not seem to function too well without me. Which obviously didn’t make me unhappy, but I didn’t wish them ill in any way. But at the same time, it was nice to know that I mattered that much.

So I had been gone and made one solo album (1992’s Out of the Cradle) and done quite a bit of touring behind that. And then of course the Bill Clinton thing (when Clinton used the band’s “Don’t Stop” in his campaign) happened, and we were called together, the five of us, to do his inaugural party, and we did that. And that became kind of the catalyst for maybe rethinking whether I wanted to stay out of the band indefinitely. They really wanted me to come back, because they thought that my not being there may have helped the demise of the band.

So by the time we got to The Dance, I think even though Warner Bros. wanted an album from the band, there was a kind of a sense of means-to-an-end in terms of drawing me back into the group: “Let’s not put him through another studio experience, let’s make a live album.” Which, you know, becomes a whole other exercise where perhaps a few new songs need to be revealed, but basically you’re just restating the body of work, and it’s a much less intensive thing to contemplate than a studio album. I think there was some of that. But there was a lot of wanting me to get drawn into that. I remember we had a dinner up at Christine’s, and there was something almost like an intervention, where everyone was standing around me saying, “We’ve gotta do this! We’ve gotta do this!” And I said, “OK, let’s do it!” So we did it. And it worked; it was great. We got a great video piece out of it, and it really was a lot of fun.

Peter Blackstock / Austin360 / Friday, February 27, 2015

Related Article

Lindsey Buckingham wants Fleetwood Mac to be more like the Eagles (Something Else Reviews)

Katherine Winston covers ‘Rhiannon’ on American Idol

Katherine Winston infused Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Rhiannon” with her own bohemian sensibilities, which earned her a spot in the American Idol Top 24.

Watch her perform a funked-up rendition of “Rhiannon” below.

VIDEOS 2/18: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland OH

Fleetwood Mac performed at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday night.

Date Venue Location Reviews Show # Total
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 Quicken Loans Arena Cleveland, Ohio 18 58

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Videos

Thanks to Brian Kraig, CINDY P, Ken Jenkins, onefastvette, RainyDayAssembly, Michael Southard, and UndergroundVideoInc for sharing these videos!

The Chain / You Make Loving Fun / Dreams (RainyDayAssembly)

Rhiannon (onefastvette)

Rhiannon / Everywhere / I Know I’m Not Wrong (RainyDayAssembly)

Sisters of the Moon / Say You Love Me (RainyDayAssembly)

Landslide (onefastvette)

Gold Dust Woman – partial (UndergroundVideoInc)

I’m So Afraid – partial (Michael Southard)

I’m So Afraid – partial (Brian Kraig)

Encore (UndergroundVideoInc)

Don’t Stop (CINDY P)

Silver Springs (CINDY P)

COMPILATION: The Chain / Dreams /Second Hand News / Rhiannon / Go Your Own Way /Big Love / Landslide / I’m So Afraid / Go Your Own Way (Ken Jenkins)

Set List

1. The Chain 13. Landslide
2. You Make Lovin’ Fun 14. Never Going Back Again
3. Dreams 15. Over My Head
4. Second Hand News 16. Gypsy
5. Rhiannon 17. Little Lies
6. Everywhere 18. Gold Dust Woman
7. I Know I’m Not Wrong 19. I’m So Afraid
8. Tusk 20. Go Your Own Way
9. Sisters of the Moon 21. World Turning
10. Say You Love Me 22. Don’t Stop
11. Seven Wonders 23. Silver Springs
12. Big Love 24. Songbird

 

REVIEW: Christine McVie’s return lifts Fleetwood Mac

Christine McVie’s return lifts Fleetwood Mac back on its Hall of Fame Pedestal

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Mick Fleetwood said it best Wednesday night.

Rising his full 6-foot-5 frame from behind his massive DW drum set, he pointed to keyboardist-vocalist-songwriter Christine McVie, on tour with her Fleetwood Mac bandmates for the first time in 16 years.

“Making all this complete,” the wild-eyed Fleetwood thundered to a sold-out Quicken Loans Arena as the spotlight shone on McVie. “Yes, indeed, our songbird has returned!”

It’s so, so true.

Two years ago, Fleetwood Mac sans McVie cut a wide swath through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s expansive catalog, relying on vocals from Stevie Nicks, who never had much range to begin with and has lost much of that over time, and a valiant effort by guitarist-vocalist Lindsey Buckingham. It wasn’t a marathon sonic waterboarding, but those limitations did make for some torturous moments over the course of more than 21/2 hours.

Wednesday night was a completely different experience.

With McVie back on keys, and her still-strong mezzo-soprano offering lead and harmony vocals, the night became a 160-minute prayer that the inevitable end would not happen.

Perhaps oddly, the greatest benefactors of McVie’s presence – aside from those of us in the listening audience – were Nicks and Buckingham.

Gone was the pressure on Nicks to carry an entire night of songs, many of which are out of her throaty wheelhouse.

Gone was the need for Buckingham to fill gaps with guitar solos in a valiant but futile attempt to fool us into thinking something wasn’t missing.

Instead, the two were able to focus on their strengths and the songs for which they are known.

For Nicks, that would be the ethereal “Rhiannon,” the cosmic (although pitchy) “Sisters of the Moon,” the wrenching “Landslide,” the autobiographical “Gypsy” and the even more autobiographical “Gold Dust Woman.”

Buckingham, a more than capable vocalist himself, could tackle “I Know I’m Not Wrong” “Big Love,” “Never Going Back Again” and “I’m So Afraid” (albeit with a bit too much FX on the last for my taste) and deliver the goods on the iconic “Tusk.”

But more than that, McVie’s presence seemed to free him to be what he really is: one of the best – and most unique – guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll.

His Rick Turner Model 1 guitar alternately screamed, wailed, cried, crooned and wooed throughout the night, as he furiously attacked the strings with his finger-picking style.

To be fair, he did that last time, too, and just about as well. But in 2013, it seemed like he was trying to fill those voids created by McVie’s absence. It ended up like rowing with only one oar, and all you do is go in circles.

McVie’s presence was felt from the opening strains the show-starting “The Chain,” and just got stronger with every lead and harmony vocal she did.

She killed “You Make Loving Fun” and took 14,000 of us with on a trip to “Everywhere.” “Say You Love Me” turned into a tour de force of her voice and Buckingham’s guitar work that would’ve made the night complete had it ended just there.

But it didn’t. “Over My Head” and “Little Lies” were spectacular with her in the lead role, and her harmony vocals on other songs helped recreate the lush sound for which Fleetwood Mac is known.

And yet, as important as McVie’s vocals were Wednesday night, there seemed to be a bigger thing at work. Every member of Fleetwood Mac, including bassist John McVie, her ex-husband, seemed content to have her back in the fold.

Fleetwood was right: The band is complete now. Life is good. For them, and for us.

Chuck Yarborough / The Plain Dealer / Thursday, February 19, 2015

Letter of Recommendation: Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk

William Mebane for The New York Times
Tusk in its natural environment. William Mebane for The New York Times

There is a species of spider that hunts by releasing chemicals that imitate the sex pheromones of moths. When its prey arrives, high on fantasies of romance, the spider hits it with a sticky blob of web, then devours it. Scientists call this “aggressive mimicry.”

This is something like the operating principle behind Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 album Tusk. The trap is set with the first track: a lite-rock masterpiece, in roughly the tempo of a summer nap, called “Over & Over.” The singer’s voice is smooth and sad, a melon-flavored wine cooler on a vacant beach at sunset with the one you know will eventually leave you. The keening cheese-ball lyrics (“all you have to do is speak out my name, and I will come running”) are so generic as to be almost meaningless, and these words float on top of a clean acoustic strum, which is punctuated neatly by a clean snare, which is colored in turn by the very clean jangles of an undistorted electric guitar.

It is, in other words, quintessential Fleetwood Mac: classic FM-radio easy listening — an absolute top-shelf lighter-swaying anthem. Not a note is out of place. (This may be the spot to mention that the birth name of the song’s lead vocalist, Christine McVie, is actually Christine Perfect.) The band’s three-voiced choir is in full-on angel-harmony mode — “Oooooooooooo a-ooo-ooo-OOO-ooo-oooooooooooo” — and as the refrain drones on (“over and over, over and over, over and over”) you can feel your pulse beginning to slow, and you step through the bead curtains into the dim back room of your consciousness, where the lava lamp still blorbles and the ylang-ylang incense burns and you can bathe forever in the radiant black light of the perpetual 1970s.

The band in 1978, from left: John McVie, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks. Credit: Norman Seeff.
The band in 1978, from left: John McVie, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks. Credit: Norman Seeff.

As Tusk’s opening song, “Over & Over” functions as a thesis statement: No matter how messy life gets — with its affairs and screaming matches and drunken blackouts and cocaine frenzies and ludicrous escapades, like that one time (true story) when a decadent German LSD cult corrupted the lead guitarist — in the end we are all going to be safe, forever, in the Crystal Palace of Soft Rock.

This is, of course, a lie. The Crystal Palace of Soft Rock will save no one. It is a beautiful but fragile structure, unfit to shelter us from even life’s most minor assaults, let alone the really serious dirt clods and cannonballs and stinger missiles associated with marriage, parenthood, age and death. The Crystal Palace of Soft Rock will crumble. It is good for nothing. Do not trust it. What makes Tusk a great album — not just a pop relic of the late ’70s but an artwork that continues to speak to contemporary, sentient humans — is how quickly and ruthlessly it exposes this lie.

William Mebane for The New York Times
William Mebane for The New York Times

It happens on the very next song. “Over & Over” fades out on a liquid guitar solo (we can rock, Fleetwood Mac will have you know, but we’re not going to burden you with too much of it), and into the vacancy steps a song called “The Ledge.” As in, a thing to fall off. And this is exactly what the album suddenly does. Fleetwood Mac shoves the glimmering Crystal Palace of Soft Rock — and along with it, the band’s whole multiplatinum, radio-friendly sound — directly off a steep and treacherous cliff, at the bottom of which it crashes into 32,000 jagged pieces. “The Ledge” is a noisy, bouncing fuzz-monster that makes no kind of sense in the universe of mainstream ’70s radio pop. The band’s signature vocals are buried in the mix, roughed up, uglified; there are chants, whispers, moans and shouts. It sounds as if it were recorded live on a whaling ship in heavy seas. You can practically hear the record executives shrieking in the background. It ends not with a gentle fade-out but with a kind of goat-bleat from Stevie Nicks, followed by some gratuitous drum patter.

Tusk was Fleetwood Mac’s follow-up to the 1977 megahit Rumours, the exquisitely engineered soft-rock juggernaut that went platinum 20 times over, spent 31 weeks at No. 1 and made Fleetwood Mac the world’s biggest band, the very definition of commercial rock. Everyone (including most of the band itself) was expecting the next album to be “Rumours II”: 40 more lucrative minutes of “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams” and “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun.”


Copies of Tusk sold in the U.S.: 2 million

Copies of Rumours sold: 20 million

Album’s price in 1979: $15.98; adjusted for inflation: $52.11

Album’s price today on iTunes: $12.99

Cost to build Fleetwood Mac’s custom recording studio for Tusk: $1.4 million

Estimated daily cost of the Tusk tour: $25,000-$30,000

Minimum number of drug dealers on the band’s payroll: 1


Instead, they got Tusk — a deliberate act of crazy defiance. Everything about the album is ridiculous, from its length (20 songs, 72 minutes) to its sleeve art (a visual distillation of the precise moment at which the 1970s turned into the 1980s) to its title (the word “tusk,” among the band’s male members, was slang for the male member; when Stevie Nicks heard that this would be the album’s title, she threatened to quit the band).

The hero (or villain) of Tusk, the organizing intelligence behind everything, was Lindsey Buckingham. He was less the band’s guitarist than a one-man band whose instruments happened to include all of his bandmates. Some of the songs were recorded in Buckingham’s home studio, where he had a setup that allowed him to play drums while sitting on the toilet. His obsessiveness during the recording alienated everyone. All of the non-Buckinghams sat around idly, inhaling hillocks of cocaine, losing track of time, while Buckingham futzed around with tape speeds and lay on the ground singing countless takes of backing vocals into a microphone taped to the floor. (He thought this would create a more “aggressive” sound.) Famously, the band rented Dodger Stadium and employed the 120-piece U.S.C. marching band to record the title track — an infectious riff that Buckingham distilled into a three-minute oddity so strange it seemed to actively sabotage any chance the song might have had to become a breakout hit.

Tusk cost more than $1 million to make — the most expensive record ever, at the time — and took 13 months to record. The result was a double LP, almost twice as long as “Rumours,” that produced zero No. 1 hits. It was as uncommercial as an essentially commercial enterprise could ever make itself sound. (Despite this, the single versions of “Tusk” and “Sara” did manage to crack the Top 10.)

This is the defiant heroism of Tusk. Rumours is one of the most immaculate products in the history of American pop — every song a potential hit, every moment airtight. “Tusk,” by contrast, is full of air; the songs are swollen with atmosphere. It contains many of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest nonsingles (“What Makes You Think You’re the One,” “Save Me a Place,” “Storms,” “That’s All for Everyone”), as well as some of the most powerful transmissions ever received from the astral plane occupied by Stevie Nicks. (“Beautiful Child,” in particular, will haunt you all the way to the terminal buttons of your neurons.) The defining tension of Tusk is perfection versus destruction, gloss versus mess — the lure of soft rock versus the barb of art rock. It is where obsessive artistic control circles around into raggedness, where chaos and order dance together in a cloud of whirling scarves. The album probably has five too many songs, and a handful of tracks are two minutes too long, but that’s the cost of this kind of genius: excess, bombast, hubris, getting carried away.

A version of this article appears in print on February 22, 2015, on page MM74 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk.

Sam Anderson / New York Times / Wednesday, February 18, 2015

No refunds for no-show ticket holders

Couldn’t make it to the Fleetwood Mac concert? Don’t expect a refund.

Fleetwood Mac played a long-awaited concert at the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday night, and though thousands were able to attend, some ticket holders were stuck at home because of Monday’s snowstorm.

Refunds won’t be issued, and ticket holders who were unable to attend are also annoyed with the Yum Center because they reached a message-only answering system, instead of a human, when they tried to call the box office, WAVE-TV reports.

“You could not get the Yum Center to even answer the phone,” Phil Stokeley said. Stokeley, who lives outside Lexington, said he had two front-row tickets valued at $1,000 but he couldn’t make it out of his driveway.

Judy Stone, who lives in Washington County, said she had three tickets that cost $75.50 each but she also didn’t have a way to get to the venue, the story said.
A Yum Center spokeswoman said she couldn’t answer WAVE-TV’s questions, only saying that refunds won’t be issued.

Stokeley said he finally reached a human on the phone Tuesday, and he was told that his complaint will be taken to a supervisor, the story said.

Louisville Business First / Wednesday, February 2015

VIDEOS 2/17: KFC YUM! Center, Louisville KY

Despite Monday’s severe snowstorm in the area, which prevented some ticket holders from reaching the venue, the show went on Tuesday night as Fleetwood Mac performed at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Unfortunately for those who couldn’t make it, the venue is not planning to issue refunds.

During “Landslide,” Stevie mentioned that Kentucky was one of her father’s favorite cities because of the Kentucky Derby, which they had attended at least three times.

Date Venue Location Reviews Show # Total
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 KFC YUM! Center Louisville, Kentucky  Courier-Journal 17 57

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Videos

Thanks to Ken Hoffmann, RockinRose Donnell, Egahm23, Edwina Jackson, mjrocks40, Joe Richard, Athena Shouekani, stingraylouisville, and Wolfstar69 for sharing these videos!

The Chain (Wolfstar69)

The Chain (Ken Hoffmann)

The Chain (Egahm23)

Dreams (Wolfstar69)

Dreams (stingraylouisville)

Second Hand New (Wolfstar69)

Rhiannon (Wolfstar69)

Everywhere (Athena Shouekani)

I’m Know I’m Not Wrong (Athena Shouekani)

Tusk (Wolfstar69)

Sisters of the Moon – partial (Edwina Jackson)

Landslide (Wolfstar69)

Landslide (RockinRose Donnell)

Never Going Back Again – partial (Wolfstar69)

Over My Head (RockinRose Donnell)

Over My Head (Wolfstar69)

Over My Head (Joe Richard)

Gypsy with Introduction (Athena Shouekani)

Gypsy (Wolfstar69)

Little Lies (RockinRose Donnell)

Gold Dust Woman (stingraylouisville)

Gold Dust Woman (Wolfstar69)

Gold Dust Woman (mjrocks40)

Go Your Own Way (RockinRose Donnell)

Go Your Own Way (Athena Shouekani)

World Turning (Athena Shouekani)

Don’t Stop (Wolfstar69)

Don’t Stop (RockinRose Donnell)

Silver Springs (mjrocks40)

Songbird (RockinRose Donnell)

Set List

1. The Chain 13. Landslide
2. You Make Lovin’ Fun 14. Never Going Back Again
3. Dreams 15. Over My Head
4. Second Hand News 16. Gypsy
5. Rhiannon 17. Little Lies
6. Everywhere 18. Gold Dust Woman
7. I Know I’m Not Wrong 19. I’m So Afraid
8. Tusk 20. Go Your Own Way
9. Sisters of the Moon 21. World Turning
10. Say You Love Me 22. Don’t Stop
11. Seven Wonders 23. Silver Springs
12. Big Love 24. Songbird

 

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac sparkles at KFC Yum! Center

Fleetwood Mac last made new music together in 2003, but the band’s heyday ended nearly 30 years ago with “Tango In the Night,” its final multi-platinum album. That technically makes Fleetwood Mac a legacy act, largely living on reputation.

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You wouldn’t have thought so Tuesday night at the KFC Yum! Center, where the band performed with a passion that belied a setlist dating back to 1975. They brought new life to songs that are familiar — overly familiar in some cases — and obliterated any notions that they’re simply cashing in on nostalgia.

Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie clearly have nothing against nostalgia as the show was top loaded with the band’s finest material. It began with a run of “The Chain,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Dreams,” “Second Hand News” and “Rhiannon” — all major hits that remain staples of rock radio.

That’s more classics in less than 20 minutes than many bands can muster in two hours, but Fleetwood Mac didn’t coast. They delivered them all with a powerful conviction that made the music seem almost shockingly vital and alive.

It didn’t hurt that Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie all sang as if time hasn’t taken much of a toll. McVie, who came out of retirement for this tour, retains much of the honeyed warmth that gives her songs such tenderness. Nicks was in surprisingly supple form, her reedy vibrato in full effect, and Buckingham didn’t hold anything back.

It’s hard to overstate how much the return of McVie informed the concert. Fleetwood Mac has had a history of rotating members since forming in 1967, but this is the definitive lineup. It just makes sense in every way.

The dynamic of McVie’s delicacy contrasted by Nicks’ multicolored daydreaming and Buckingham’s almost callous directness is what transformed Fleetwood Mac from a mildly successful band of journeymen into one of history’s biggest acts. That combination still makes magic.

Here’s the full setlist:

“The Chain”

“You Make Loving Fun”

“Dreams”

“Second Hand News”

“Rhiannon”

“Everywhere”

“I Know I’m Not Wrong”

“Tusk”

“Sisters of the Moon”

“Say You Love Me”

“Seven Wonders”

“Big Love”

“Landslide”

“Never Going Back Again”

“Over My Head”

“Gypsy”

“Little Lies”

“Gold Dust Woman”

“I’m So Afraid”

“Go Your Own Way”

Encore:

“World Turning”

“Don’t Stop”

“Silver Springs”

Second encore:

Songbird”

Jeffrey Lee Puckett can be reached at (502) 582-4160, jpuckett@courier-journal.com and on Twitter, @JLeePuckett.

Jeffrey Lee Puckett / The Courier-Journal / Wednesday, February 18, 2015

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac at Chicago’s Allstate Arena

Maybe Fleetwood Mac will still be doing what they do 20 years from now. It wouldn’t surprise me. They lived through peak self-destruction, through the decades when bands were losing members left and right to the side effects of 20th century music culture, lived through the years when fame sounded a lot like a death knell. They endured more fractures in public than many people have to deal with in private. But Fleetwood Mac were lucky. They made it out.

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They know it, too, and they couldn’t be more grateful. Playing the 56th night of their On with the Show tour on Valentine’s Day at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, the band emerged to an audience of thousands on a stage decorated with bouquets of red roses. This is Fleetwood Mac’s first tour with Christine McVie since she quit the band in 1998, and her presence lent the concert the feel of a warm, comfortable family reunion with the most bohemian aunts and uncles you’ve got.

Like folks seeing their extended family for the first time in years, Fleetwood Mac tell stories. Stevie Nicks recalled the first time she stood on the painted floor of the Velvet Underground, a clothing store in San Francisco where Janis Joplin was known to shop for her stage looks. She talked about seeing her future as a musician there and urged everyone present to stick to their dreams — a platitude, maybe, but one that took flight coming from your hippie aunt Stevie Nicks.

Fleetwood Mac keep it simple — and joyful — in concert. Mick Fleetwood has his monogrammed gold drum kit, and Nicks has her several changes of goth nymph looks, but they don’t act like rock stars. They played like they loved the songs more than anyone else in the room, and maybe they did. They spoke to the audience as though they were genuinely touched by our outpourings of applause. I think they were.

They kicked off the night with “The Chain”, a Rumours cut with a bass line big enough to knock you off your feet if you’re not careful. They jumped right into the heart of what’s made them so vital to pop music as we understand it now. Fleetwood Mac deal in poles: their songs are heavy and quick, rousing and sad, massive and massively vulnerable, all in one.

Live, they take their time. In between two cuts from Tusk, Lindsey Buckingham took a moment just to share his thoughts with us as they came to him. “We are a band that, I think it’s safe to say, has seen its share of ups and downs,” he said. “What makes us what we are, I think, is that we have continued to grow and evolve and to prevail through the good and the bad. And in this particular moment, with the return of the beautiful Christine, I’ve been able to begin a brand-new, prolific chapter in the story of this band Fleetwood Mac.”

Was that a hint? They didn’t share new songs with us, and to be fair, they have more than enough material to draw from already. But “prolific” is a hopeful word to use for someone who’s been with this band for 40 — 40! — years.

Maybe he just meant the tour, the indelible energy that Buckingham and his bandmates are able to conjure up night after night for a new group of people each time. To get on stage, to play these old songs, and to mean it — that’s its own kind of prolific. For a band with Fleetwood Mac’s heritage, it’s startlingly rare. There was a moment after Stevie Nicks finished singing “Silver Springs” when she thanked us — us — for cheering. “That song is my heart,” she said. I believed her. It is brave, hard work to bare it like that.

Setlist

The Chain
You Make Loving Fun
Dreams
Second Hand News
Rhiannon
Everywhere
I Know I’m Not Wrong
Tusk
Sisters of the Moon
Say You Love Me
Seven Wonders
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gypsy
Little Lies
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way

First Encore

World Turning
Don’t Stop
Silver Springs

Second Encore

Songbird

Sasha Geffen / Consequence of Sound / Sunday, February 15, 2015

VIDEOS 2/14: Allstate Arena, Rosemont IL

Fleetwood Mac performed at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), on Valentine’s Day. For the special night, Christine received a large bouquet of red roses, which was placed atop her keyboards.

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Date Venue Location Reviews Show # Total
Saturday, February 14, 2015 Allstate Arena Rosemont, Illinois  Fan review 16 56

Click here to view all ON WITH THE SHOW tour recaps – the most comprehensive coverage on the web!

Videos

Thanks to BD Hardwood Floors, capedogger, joeypgh1, Linzers21, Michael Marino, ohHushSteph22, pandaspu, sevenrhye, simplyinsinful, Frank Sullivan, and We are luck, we are fate… for sharing these videos!

The Chain (joeypgh1)

The Chain (pandaspu)

You Make Loving Fun (joeypgh1)

Dreams (Linzers21)

Dreams – partial (joeypgh1)

Second Hand News (joeypgh1)

Second Hand News (pandaspu)

Rhiannon (Frank Sullivan)

Rhiannon – partial (joeypgh1)

Everywhere (joeypgh1)

I Know I’m Not Wrong (simplyinsinful)

I Know I’m Not Wrong (joeypgh1)

Tusk (joeypgh1)

Tusk (pandaspu)

Sisters of the Moon (joeypgh1)

Sisters of the Moon (Linzers21)

Say You Love (joeypgh1)

Seven Wonders (joeypgh1)

Seven Wonders (pandaspu)

Seven Wonders (Linzers21)

Big Love (ohHushSteph22)

Big Love (Linzers21)

Landslide (joeypgh1)

Landslide (We are luck, we are fate…)

Never Going Back Again (joeypgh1)

Over My Head (joeypgh1)

Gypsy (Linzers21)

Gypsy (pandaspu)

Gypsy – partial (joeypgh1)

Little Lies (pandaspu)

Little Lies (joeypgh1)

Little Lies (Frank Sullivan)

Gold Dust Woman (Linzers21)

Gold Dust Woman (sevenrhye)

Gold Dust Woman – partial (capedogger)

I’m So Afraid (joeypgh1)

Go Your Own Way (pandaspu)

Go Your Own Way (BD Hardwood Floors)

World Turning – partial (joeypgh1)

Don’t Stop (joeypgh1)

Songbird (Michael Marino)

Silver Springs (Linzers21)

Silver Springs (joeypgh1)

Set List

1. The Chain 13. Landslide
2. You Make Lovin’ Fun 14. Never Going Back Again
3. Dreams 15. Over My Head
4. Second Hand News 16. Gypsy
5. Rhiannon 17. Little Lies
6. Everywhere 18. Gold Dust Woman
7. I Know I’m Not Wrong 19. I’m So Afraid
8. Tusk 20. Go Your Own Way
9. Sisters of the Moon 21. World Turning
10. Say You Love Me 22. Don’t Stop
11. Seven Wonders 23. Silver Springs
12. Big Love 24. Songbird