REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac at Manchester Arena

Fleetwood Mac fans finally got to see the classic Rumours-era line-up reunited last night as Christine McVie joined ex-husband John McVie and bandmates Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham on stage at Manchester Arena.

The singer – who is the songwriter and voice behind some of the band’s most enduring hits, including “Don’t Stop,” “Little Lies” and “You Make Loving Fun” – is back on the road with the band for the first time in 16 years for their On With The Show tour.

Fans were delighted to see her return – as was Stevie Nicks, who echoed the audience’s excitement as she squealed: “Our girl is BACK!”

None of the group showed any sign of the mystery illness that forced them to cancel their first show in Manchester last month as they played an unrelenting two and a half hour set.

Now all in their mid to late 60s except Christine, who is 71, they worked the stage with the energy of a group half their age, particularly Lindsey, whose virtuoso guitar playing stole the show.

There was no sign either of the turbulence that nearly tore the band apart during the making of Rumours, with ex-lovers Stevie and Lindsey sweetly clasping hands before dueting on a gorgeous stripped-back version of “Landslide” (we think we even saw Stevie wipe away a tear), while Christine and John appeared just as happy to be sharing a stage again.

“Our Songbird, you might say, has returned,” as Mick put it fondly – and there could only be one way to close the show as Christine sat down alone at a piano to sing her beautiful ballad.

The finale was the highlight of the show for many fans who had waited for years to hear her sing it again, but it was by no means the only standout moment.

From opener “The Chain” to the rousing singalong that accompanied “Go Your Own Way” and Mick’s manic drum solo, it was a five-star performance from start to finish. Even the weather seemed to agree, with fans leaving the arena to a “Dreams”-worthy chorus of thunder and rain outside.

Here is what fans thought about last night’s show:

Emily Heward / Manchester Evening News / Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: Fleetwood Mac @First Direct Arena, Leeds

A wild-eyed genius named Mick Fleetwood says it better than I ever could as Fleetwood Mac exit the stage – “The Mac is BACK!”

A blistering two hour and 20 minute set from the classic (yes, that word is ENTIRELY appropriate) Rumours-era line-up elicits one of the most passionate responses I have seen from an audience in my life.

A four-song opening shot from said record that made them famous the world over was always going to put us on the right foot.

“The Chain,” all close harmonies and blues guitar gives way to one of the most memorable of bass lines and Leeds is all theirs. “You Make Loving Fun,” “Dreams” and “Second Hand News” are all delivered as they should be, note perfect and intense.

The rock solid, bomb-proof rhythm section of Mr Fleetwood and his self-professed dearest friend John McVie form the bedrock of tonight’s show.

Highlights come from their front people throughout however.

Returning from a 17 year hiatus from music, Christine McVie still has the voice of an angel, as evidenced by set-closer “Songbird” and “Everywhere.”

Lindsay Buckingham storms around the stage like a man a quarter of his age, his distinctive finger-picking guitar style as ferocious and precise and it ever was. His solo-rendition of “Big Love” was a thing of majesty,

Best of all is centre-stage throughout. Stevie Nicks, 67, still mops the floor with any other front woman out there. During “Gold Dust Woman” she does not just command the stage but dominate it,

The highlight for this humble reviewer is “Landslide,” performed by the couple Buckingham and Nicks, whose well-documented fallings-out inspired so much of their greatest art, is tear-jerking. Stevie owns the spotlight, a magisterial performance.

Despite Mick’s bullish claim we will most-likely never see these five together again. But tonight’s gig capped a truly unique and inspirational career and cemented their legacy as one of the most special and unique rock n roll bands of all time.

The Mac is back? The Mac never left us and never will.

Mark Casci / Yorkshire Evening Post (UK) / Thursday, July 1, 2015

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REVIEW: A man who hates gigs reviews Fleetwood Mac at the O2

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Someone has got me a ticket to see Fleetwood Mac, you say? I love Fleetwood Mac. But hang on, I hate gigs. Love Fleetwood Mac. Hate gigs. Love Fleetwood Mac. Hate gigs. Oh well, let’s just get on with it then.

The O2 would be a sterile venue to host a conference of anti-bacterial spray manufacturers, let alone a concert of one of the world’s great rock bands, and the clientele were suitably hard to pin down. It was strange to go to a gig with no discernable tribes, unless fans of a carvery on a Sunday constitutes a tribe. It was like being on a Ryanair flight with 20,000 people.

Why do I hate gigs? Even when I was a teenager and went to a gig a week, I hated gigs. For starters, I experience enochlophobia (look it up). More importantly, I have always been so precious about music that it always seemed a particular perverse cruelty to have my experiences ruined by inevitable meatheads, who would always (and I mean, always) end up standing or sitting next to, behind, or in front of me. Since I refuse to enjoy myself, God punishes me by surrounding me with people who do.

And lo, George the meathead magnet strikes again. Behind me were five friends, who informed me that they had come all the way from Bristol to see their favourite band – and then talked through every song. It was all going exactly as I had expected. It was a shame that the sound at the O2 is so muffled and rough. It really is a music venue for people who don’t like music. I would have preferred a bit more volume and clarity, not only to drown out my paralytic-clown neighbours, but because I really wanted to listen to the band.

Fleetwood Mac are both brilliant and loveable, which is some combination. I overheard one woman saying, “I’m going to cry when they come on, I can feel it.” They opened with “The Chain”, a surefire way to get everyone on board, and its finale still resonates with intricate vocal layering that evokes the choir of an Orthodox church. From here they ran through their greatest hits, which was just fine by everyone, including me. It is worth noting that this is a band with three distinct but complementary songwriters of the highest calibre. There are very few other bands who can boast of such a musical arsenal and their songbook reflects this strength, rotating from the enthralling, edgy neurosis of Lindsey Buckingham to the dark femininity of Stevie Nicks followed by the pure light of Christine McVie’s perfect pop.

They have been buoyed by the return of Christine McVie, who restores the band to its classic Seventies and Eighties lineup (yes, I know it’s not the original lineup). Stevie Nicks appeared to be genuinely delighted to have McVie back and this love was echoed in the reaction of the audience to McVie’s songs, which got the loudest and warmest applause. McVie is an extraordinary woman. She looks like your mum’s best friend – Auntie Christine who works on the lingerie counter at M&S – but she has written some titanic songs: “You Make Loving Fun”, “Say That You Love Me”, “Little Lies”. She is consistently underappreciated.
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Buckingham’s highlight (his guitar playing borders on superhuman at times) was his solo acoustic version of “Big Love”, a song which gets more unsettling, mysterious and enjoyable as it ages. He was clearly the hero of the one of my new friends, who was so drunk that in between informing those around him Buckingham was “a f***ing legend”, he forgot the legend’s name and began shouting “Lesley! Lesley!”

My enjoyment of the subtle, emotionally wrought harmonies of “Rhiannon” was impaired somewhat by the girl in the seat behind me yelling “Sit the f*** down” at her friends over and over and over again. She trumped this during Lesley, sorry Lindsey, Buckingham’s slowed-down version of “Never Going Back Again”, during which she loudly conceded, “I’m so drunk I can’t see,” as she kicked the back of chair like a toddler in economy class.

Buckingham made a speech about the band’s well-documented “ups and downs” and proclaimed a new “profound and prolific” era for the band. That was the herald for the dead hand of a new song, which, since no one knew or wanted to hear, meant hundreds of punters headed for the toilets and the bars. It was as if Fleetwood Mac had become their own support band nobody cared about. But I don’t think they noticed and it didn’t matter as the hits soon started rolling again.

Buckingham and Nicks sang “Happy Birthday” to Mick Fleetwood, whose enjoyment and drumming chops are clearly undimmed. He and John McVie – recovering from cancer – remain reassuringly indomitable and tight. As John McVie said of his musical spouse of 50 years to Mojo, “Mick will go on until they put him up against the wall and shoot him.”

And so, after most of Rumours, half of Tango In The Night  and the title song from Tusk (one of the highlights and the only occasion the visuals really helped the show – with a trippy rehash of the original “Tusk” video at Dodger Stadium in LA), we got to the money shot: “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop”. Nicks returned for the finale wearing a black top hat that reminded me a bit of the hitcher from The Mighty Boosh (which would have pleased Mac fan Noel Fielding) and the band proceeded to give the crowd what they wanted.

About a third of the audience stood up to dance. More still jiggled in their seats. I doubt if there have been that many people with so little natural rhythm gathered in one place since the world championship bowls final at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea. McVie capped her triumphant evening with a grand piano and “Songbird”. My new chums were suitably moved. But it was hard not to be.

As I said before: Love Fleetwood Mac. Hate gigs. Deep down I knew the uncomfortable truth of this enterprise, which was that the meatheads were the unfortunate ones for having to sit behind me, rather than the other way round. “This has got to be one of the top three nights of my life, easy,” slurred one of them. God had spoken and it was my fault if I didn’t listen. Long live Fleetwood Mac and their fans.

George Chesterton / GQ UK / Thursday, June 25, 2015

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac hold nothing back in Dublin

Saturday nights show may be Fleetwood Mac’s 92nd performance of a 12-month tour but they’re adamant that it means something special.
It was at this venue, back in 2013, that singer and keyboardist Christine McVie secretly rehearsed with the band before rejoining after a 16-year absence.

The restoration of Fleetwood Mac’s classic line-up, along with the presence of signature McVie songs such as “Everywhere” and “Little Lies,” has clearly been a source of rejuvenation.

As soon as they launched into set-opener “The Chain,” the band waste no time in delivering the epitome of stadium pop-rock: a polished heritage act powering through one fan favourite after another.

Almost 40 years have passed since songs such as “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way” documented the group’s inner turmoil, but their ability to connect with listeners remains undiminished.

The sound is clear and the pace feels well-measured, despite a two-song lull between the triumphant swagger of “Tusk” and a rousing solo performance of “Big Love” by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham.

Founding members Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, both dressed in waistcoats and flat-caps, combine to pound out a muscular rhythm section.
Stevie Nicks, eyes closed as she leans into the microphone, exudes unflappable charisma.

A sweat-soaked Buckingham, having expended more time and energy on stage than anyone else, pounds his chest and blows kisses to the crowd.
By the time a two-and-a-half hour set comes to a close with “Silver Springs,” the band look spent.

Little has been held back. For a second encore, Christine McVie performs an understated “Songbird” alone at the piano before beaming with gratitude towards the crowd.

Just as that appears to be that, Stevie Nicks returns to the stage to tell the full story of McVie rejoining Fleetwood Mac – a reminder that this represents a circular moment for the band, a new chapter in their history.

That, in turn, feels like the end… until Mick Fleetwood re-emerges to offer his own farewell, urging the audience to take care of themselves and to be kind to each other.

“And remember” he shouts, donning a top hat as he turns to leave “The Mac is most definitely back!”.

Cian Traynor / The Irish Times / Sunday, June 21, 2015

REVIEW: Unutterably thrilling (London, UK)

When they spoke, they made little to no sense, but when they sang and played they came close to perfection, says Melissa Kite.

How can Stevie Nicks be 67? Is this possible or has Wikipedia made a mistake?
How can Stevie Nicks be 67? Is this possible or has Wikipedia made a mistake?

Fleetwood Mac

‘I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to get this chance in life,’ said Christine McVie, as the opening jangle to ‘Everywhere’ rang out. Judging by their ecstatic reaction, the audience felt much the same way.

Look, I’ll be honest. I’m not going to give you a dispassionately critical review of Fleetwood Mac, together again in their classic line-up — Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and, for the first time in 16 years, Christine McVie. But then, who would give you that? A puritan arrived on a time machine from the 16th century? A shadow minister for work and pensions? Who could possibly be so joyless as to not enjoy the Mac being well and truly back?

From the minute the fab five wafted on stage and began thumping out ‘The Chain’ in glorious abandon, this was a show that was as near perfection as it is possible to calibrate. It wasn’t just good. It was so good I was jealous of myself for being there.

This was the 82nd gig of Fleetwood Mac’s On With the Show tour, and they delivered an impeccable showcasing of non-stop hits. For such diverse, eccentric talents to come together and gel at all is a miracle. To gel for so long, how does that work? But perhaps that’s the point. The band makes a wonderful sound in the way that only musicians who have been together a long time, gone through fire, and learnt to accommodate each other, can.

I was on my feet a few numbers in, unable to stay seated for the songs fromTango in the Night, the soundtrack of my youth. But no matter which was your own particular favourite era or album, there wasn’t a number in this show that wasn’t a crowd-pleaser. If you’d wanted a drink, or a trip to the loo, you would have been hard pressed. There just wasn’t a second you could allow yourself to miss.

Stevie Nicks, like an exquisite moth in her winged clothes, the mystic muse, ‘our poet’, as Fleetwood called her, was by turns raunchy and raucous, wounded and delicate. On ‘Rhiannon’ she was every inch the old witch of the song, on ‘Gypsy’ she was knowing, yet vulnerable.

Buckingham played unfeasible guitar solos, yelping and howling like a demented coyote in an acoustic version of ‘Big Love’ that was half rock’n’roll, half flamenco. Standing in a spotlight alone, screeching as his fingers plucked lightning fast arpeggios, the effect he produced was as if Jimi Hendrix had swallowed Joaquin Rodrigo. It was unutterably thrilling, and worked on a deep level, by which I mean that as well as making a fantastic noise, it did things to you that you weren’t exactly sure you wanted doing, as they might dislodge something awkward, emotionally speaking. He tried to explain the song before playing it, referring back to his personal struggles with the lifestyle the band led in their heyday.

‘Tango was a very difficult album to complete,’ he told the audience. ‘We were probably living that lifestyle out to its ultimate conclusion. If I look back on how I was then …this is about the power and importance of change.’ Even though he didn’t make total sense, I understood what he meant.

Effusive about McVie’s return, as they all were, he said: ‘We’ve seen our fair share of ups and downs but it’s made us what we are. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We’ve been able to grow and evolve but also to prevail. And in this karmic, circular moment, with the return of the beautiful Christine, we’ve begun a prolific, profound new chapter in the history of this band.’ I’m allowing it, I thought, as he rambled on, because the man is a genius.

In one of several meandering excursions of her own between songs, Nicks gave a Reith-style lecture on the subject of longevity, but I guess she has earned the right. They had honed their craft properly, she said, supporting Hendrix and other giants in big stadiums before they headlined themselves. They had only survived 40 years because they were ‘proper songwriters’. Then she launched into a ‘we may be old but we’re still down with the kids’ type tribute to Adele, who was in the audience. She dedicated ‘Landslide’ to her, and sang it like she was only a slip of a girl herself.

How can Nicks be 67? Is this possible, or has Wikipedia made a mistake? She looked incredible cavorting around the stage, shaking her long blonde hair, dancing with legs planted wide, frenziedly tipping herself upside down and gyrating like a shaman in a trance. Her voice was as strong as ever. ‘Back to the gypsy that I was,’ she sang, in that world-weary drawl, and you believed her. ‘We love you, Stevie!’ people shouted from the back seats.

She possibly didn’t need to come back to the mike at the end of the encore and start telling us the exact details of how Christine had rung up and told them she was coming back to the band, especially after McVie herself had more than adequately brought proceedings to a close with ‘Songbird’, seated alone at a grand piano, landing us in a sweet, serene place.

Still, I sat listening to Stevie chatting about life, and how it had ‘all worked out beautifully’, long after the rest of the band had gone off stage, and with no hope of another song coming, because, well, she was right, wasn’t she? It had all worked out beautifully.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated .

Melissa Kite / The Spectator / Saturday, June 6, 2015

REVIEW: ‘There’s no stopping these sublime rockers’

Fleetwood Mac, O2 Arena, gig review: Whatever the band’s internal dynamic, it seems to work for the music

The internal dynamic of the Fleetwood Mac soap opera has always lent an additional frisson of interest to their performances, so the return of Christine McVie after an absence of 16 years made the band’s current show especially intriguing.

No surprise, then, that they should open with “The Chain.” Even without its obvious message that “the chain keeps us together,” it serves to reintroduce all the elements that make the band special: Mick Fleetwood’s earth-shaking bass-drum pulse heralding the re-constitution of those sylvan three-part harmonies, and John McVie’s massive bass bridge leading into the first of a series of dazzling guitar solos from Lindsey Buckingham. If only, in retrospect, they had stayed true to the show’s natural arc and eventually closed with the obvious money-shot encore, “Don’t Stop,” rather than deflating its impact by tacking on several more songs to an already overlong show.

But for a while, there’s no faulting this reunion, which of course relied heavily on Rumours, their defining epic of Californication. Even the weaker numbers, like “Second Hand News” and “Gold Dust Woman,” get an airing, the latter inflated into an interminable bout of melodrama. But once things settle down, there are some sublime performances tonight, several of them from Buckingham, a seriously underrated guitarist. His solo presentation of “Big Love,” a whirligig flurry of acoustic arpeggios and hammered notes, is extraordinary; though I could have done without the preceding lecture on the production of Tango in the Night and how it represented a “meditation on the power and importance of change,” or whatever. It’s almost as if he’s trying to epitomise the West Coast new-age weirdo – and that’s Stevie Nicks’ job, surely?

For her part, Nicks seems delighted to be back front and centre, wafting her witchy black silks and ribbons around and tottering about on spike-heeled platforms like a glam-rock version of the prologue to Macbeth during “Rhiannon.” By contrast, Christine McVie has a more refined deportment, even when hefting an accordion through a set-stopping version of the mighty “Tusk” which, in lieu of an actual horn section, climaxes with a back-projection of the USC Trojans marching-band that played on the original recording. It’s a euphoric, triumphant moment.

For all their claims of friendship, however, there’s something lacking in the onstage dynamic, which fails to shrink the massive space in the way that, say, the Stones do, when Keith and Ronnie lean upon each other like old chums. The three singers seem miles apart, as if reluctant to intrude on one another’s personal space. But whatever their relations, it seems to work for the music, which is uplifting and joyous for the most part. And the most welcome parts of it come from Christine McVie’s return: with songs as potent and engaging as “Little Lies,” “Everywhere,” “Say That You Love Me” and, of course, “Don’t Stop,” she’s always been the warm, welcoming heart of Fleetwood Mac, and it’s wonderful to see her back.

Andy Gill / The Independent (UK) / Sunday, May 31, 2015

REVIEW: Back together, and just about perfect

The return of the band’s classic line-up on their On With the Show tour is cause for celebration – and fascination.

“Let’s get this party started!” isn’t the introduction you expect at a Fleetwood Mac show, and especially not from Stevie Nicks, creator of the Hollywood Hills hippie-mystic archetype. But tonight is the 82nd gig of their year-long On With the Show tour and Nicks, splendid in trailing black lace, feels they’ve turned a corner in their relationship with Christine McVie. The singer-pianist’s nervousness about rejoining after a 16-year break has given way to wholehearted mucking in. Nodding towards McVie’s keyboard, behind which she is tall and commanding, Nicks roars: “Now I think we can safely say our girl is back!”

Mac returning to their classic configuration is cause for celebration, and not just because it lets us hear one of pop’s great songbooks performed by the five people who wrote it. There’s also the fascination of seeing them accommodate each other: Lindsey Buckingham, Nicks and McVie get equal front-time, and use it in ways that make you wonder how such disparate personalities functioned in the same group.

Photograph: Jim Dyson/Redferns
Photograph: Jim Dyson/Redferns

Nicks is the spell-casting sensualist, reedily fronting Dreams, Rhiannon and Landslide (dedicating the last to her father and singer Adele); Buckingham’s emotional collapse after years of “leading the lifestyle” is re-created in the angular battering he gives Tusk and Big Love. And McVie is somehow veiled and private, even when singing about bliss and its turbulent aftermath on Everywhere and Little Lies. Mick Fleetwood also gets his eventual moment, with a drum solo on World Turning, but he and John McVie are the perfect rhythm section – there without being too there.

There’s nothing to fault except Nicks’s getting so lost in her cocaine-warning song, Gold Dust Woman, that it goes on for a week – time that could have been better spent hearing the blaring Tusk again. Apart from that, it’s just about perfect.

At Genting Arena, Birmingham, 8 June. Box office: 0121-780 4141. Then touring.

Caroline Sullivan / The Guardian / Thursday, May 28, 2015

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac, Reunion Tour, O2 Arena

Balance restored as a magnificent five-piece, but they could still talk less.

Rating: 4/5 stars
To begin at the very bizarre ending. Fleetwood Mac, finally reincarnated as a five-piece with Christine McVie back stage right on luscious vocals and keyboards, had just thrashed out a show of great finesse for two hours. It had all gone peachily. McVie, the band’s original songbird, was given a last lovely encore – “For You” – sung solo on a grand piano. It should have been the last word. Many were already going, or gone.

But after one last bow Stevie Nicks, looking as ever like an accident in a taffeta factory, had a rambling tale to tell about McVie’s prodigal return to the band after 16 years. This bathetic oration lasted about three minutes. Then Mick Fleetwood, perhaps refusing to cede the last word to anyone else, came out to tell one and all to “take care of yourselves and be kind to one another”.

The band that launched a thousand documentaries has overdosed on the talking cure. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Lindsey Buckingham. And of course richer. The reincarnated Mac have been touring since September – this return to the band’s first home was their 82nd date. The McVies have the the right idea. Christine said it was nice to be back, while John, looking like a London dustman after a makeover, never opened his gob. You always know he’s there, though. Fleetwood Mac takes its name from its rhythm section, and last night at the O2 they were loud in the mix from the first thuds of Fleetwood’s bass drum and McVie’s iconic running bassline in “The Chain”. Too loud sometimes: “Rhiannon” should be all about Nicks but was as much about drum and bass.

The return of Christine McVie has restored Mac to equilibrium. A mulch of British rhythm and blues and San Franciscan flower power was held in balance by the more grounded of its two songbirds. For years there’s been nothing to bridge the gap between Fleetwood’s leaning-on-the-lamppost shtick and the larval gush of Californian bullshit coming from moon-sister Nicks and karmic old stoner Buckingham. As the first three songs rolled out from Rumours – “The Chain”, “You Make Loving Fun” and “Thunder” – the band’s three voices were back in sync. McVie’s lovely mumsy alto is still the only known antidote to Nicks’ magnificent mystical foghorn.

Rumours was, as only right and proper, at the heart of this reunion. It still casts a hell of a spell even if no one – not even the three graces on backing vocalists – had the whoomph to hit the high harmonic line in “Second Hand News”. But the oldies don’t have to be carbon copies. In the acoustic interlude, Buckingham led a clever if slightly self-indulgent reinterpretation of “Never Going Down Again”, full of slow slide vocals and delayed entrances.

Such is the giant shadow cast by Rumours that Buckingham wasn’t entirely disingenuous to mention “an album called Tango in the Night”. “Big Love”, full of inchoate back-to-the-woods all-American yowls, was prefaced by his now usual blurb about what the song meant then and means now. There are two Buckinghams, the shaman and the showman. When he wasn’t sharing the fluff in his navel, he spent the night duck-walking in skinny jeans and wigging out like a teenager, climaxing the main set with a guitar solo in which he was, basically, beating off.

There were several sniffs of the band as a work in progress. Fleetwood came to the front to bash a smaller kit for the fivesome’s not-that-great first ever single, “Over My Head”, affording a tantalising glimpse of what it would be like to see them play a club. “Landslide” – Nicks’s lovely lyrics about ageing now truer than ever – was a moment of peace in a stormy night. At the song’s end, she wiped a finger across Buckingham’s sopping brow. There was that much love in the room.

Rumours’ bloated successor Tusk was quoted. The title song, with its marching-band brass blasted out on synths, remains impressively weird. “Sisters of the Moon”, with a colour-boosted Celtic landscape on the back projection, felt like Nicks’s hippy-dippy signature. As the show entered its last quarter, you could be forgiven for assuming Christine McVie had left the band all over again. The set ended with “Go Your Own Way”, before the encore brought what many must have thought they’d been spared, Fleetwood’s demented-magus drum solo. “Don’t Stop” restored order, only for Nicks and Fleetwood to take the song’s message a little too literally with those closing speeches. Not that you should doubt the sentiment. This band has broken a lot of chains in its time. With the links back in place, they are a thing to behold.

Jasper Rees / The Arts Desk / Thursday, May 28, 2015

REVIEW: ‘Nothing less than extraordinary’

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac, O2 Arena

The soap opera of the band member’s personal lives has always lent a certain depth and texture to Fleetwood Mac, says Neil McCormick

“The Chain” made for a suitably dramatic opening, showing off the restored Fleetwood Mac to full effect with that fantastic bass, thunderous drums, blood quickening guitar solo and gorgeous wall of harmonies insisting the chain cannot be broken. Going straight into “You Make Loving Fun” drove the point home, showcasing Christine McVie’s smooth vocal and funky keyboards. “I think we can safely say our girl is back” trilled Stevie Nicks.

This tour marks the full reunion of the classic line-up, with the return of Christine McVie after 16 years. The band have become almost the definition of a heritage act in her absence, regularly touring sets of their greatest hits to nostalgic audiences, so you can’t really say she was missed. But there is no doubt she restores some balance, both in musical and pop cultural terms.

Musically, she takes some of the weight off virtuoso guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, her smooth, lush pop songs softening his sharper arty edges. Flowing gems as potent as “Everywhere,” “Little Lies” and “Songbird” were restored to their rightful place in the centre of a Fleetwood set and for that alone audiences have reason to be grateful. But there is a sense too that the dysfunctional family is back together, healing old wounds with the balm of time and music, a message that, in itself, speaks volumes to lifelong fans

Fleetwood Mac make much of their history of “ups and downs” as Buckingham puts it. Now that Christine is back playing again with ex-husband bassist John McVie there are three former couples on stage, if you take into account that drummer Mick Fleetwood romanced singer Nicks behind the back of Buckingham. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Buckingham insisted, and seemed intent on proving it with a playful yet dramatically full blooded duet with his ex on Never Going Back Again.

The soap opera has always lent a certain depth and texture to Fleetwood Mac but, frankly, a little less chatter and a little more playing would be my only suggestion. There were speeches even after the encores. Yet it feels churlish to complain. Precious few bands have contained the range of vocal, stylistic and songwriting talent of the Mac, and even the inevitable inclusion of a new song didn’t start a queue for the toilets. With that taut, explosive rhythm section, Buckingham’s imaginative flair, Nicks’ wildcard charisma and Christine McVie’s singalong soulfulness restored to the heart of the matter, there is really no way this band could be anything less than extraordinary. A lusty mass singalong of “Don’t Stop” spoke volumes about how their audience felt about the return of the Mac.

Neil McCormick / The Telegraph / Tuesday, May 27, 2015

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac @ Verizon Arena

Nearly every member of Fleetwood Mac apologized for postponing the scheduled March 11 show at Verizon Arena because of an undisclosed sickness in the band. No one in attendance April 19 seemed to care. Better late than never. A near-capacity crowd of 12,884 sang, danced, yelled, laughed and maybe even shed a tear or two as the legendary band that has churned out hits since the mid-1970s performed 22 of their popular songs.

Twenty-two songs. We aren’t talking about kids up there belting out tunes, hammering out guitar rifts and playing the drums with reckless abandon that Tommy Lee, in his prime, would’ve been jealous of.

The deeper the show went, the stronger the group performed and the more raucous the large crowd became. One of the highlights came when Mick Fleetwood performed a drum solo on “World Turning” that seemed to go on for a half hour. Kudos to the directors who weaved different camera angles of Fleetwood on the video boards to give off a psychedelic vibe. While Fleetwood did his thing and chanted to the crowd, who responded, “day-aye-aye-oh,” and such, the rest of the band rested, including guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who laid down off to the side of the stage and chatted with fans.

That was the first song of the encore and Fleetwood hammered the skins like it was the first number of the night, much to the delight of the fans. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members concluded the show with popular hits “Don’t Stop” and “Silver Springs,” respectively.

Even with a wealth of hits, the band members were able to play most of their popular songs including “Chain”, which opened the night, “Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” “Tusk,” “Second Hand News,” “Landslide,” “Big Love” and, of course, “Go Your Own Way,” which ended the regular set. As expected, many in the crowd sang along and danced, and when the song ended and the band walked off the stage, many began to stomp and clap, ready for more.

There were some notable omissions such as “Think About Me,” “Seven Wonders” and “Song Bird,” but 22 songs in 2 1/2 hours is commendable and most, even die-hards, I’m sure, left happy.

There was no opener or intermission and not a great deal of conversation, but each member had the chance to grab the mic. All of the members welcomed Christine McVie back to the fray after an extended absence. Stevie Nicks offered a great nugget when she told the back story of the Velvet Underground mention in “Gypsy.”

In 1968, Nicks was playing in a band in the San Francisco area and saved as much money as she could to go shopping at the trendy Velvet Underground. Even with a hefty savings, she couldn’t afford anything in the store. She says she left the store that day determined to return and “buy anything she wanted” in the store.

She encouraged the crowd to find that “Velvet Underground moment” in their lives and don’t listen to naysayers as they strive to make their dreams come true.

Verizon Arena has seen its fair share of memorable moments since its opening in 1999. However, with a legendary band playing its best and a large, appreciative crowd cheering them on, it had to make this performance rank among some of the better ones in arena history.

Sydney Frames / Sync Weekly / Tuesday, April 21, 2015