REVIEW: ‘OK, I liked it’

A last minute thing for me. Didn’t expect to go see Fleetwood Mac. My friend and ex-roommate Max Comeau was also there. Seated somewhere on the floor. A musician himself and very much influenced by the band, he breathes their music to survive. He introduced me to Fleetwood Mac among other music back at the beginning of the millennium. Are friendship didn’t last long though due to many disagreements. Now we’re friends again because we’re mature people, sort of, and we agree to disagree on stuff.

The show was at the Bell Centre. Yawn. On the floor were chairs. Double yawn. I understand having a show at the Bell Centre when you’re a super group but you’ve got to at least have the floor free of chairs no? It’s just more exciting. Max pointed out though that pretty much everybody was standing up from their chairs in the first rows. I had a nice seat in the red zone not so far away from the soundman. A woman in the aisle next to me was having the time of her life, dancing to all her favorite songs, until someone told her to sit down because she was blocking the view. Yes! We’re at the Bell Centre.

The place was packed but not sold out. Still that’s good news. I was told Fleetwood Mac once cancelled a Montreal show. The official reason was scheduling conflicts but Max believes it was because of poor ticket sales. It happens sometimes in Montreal. A show cancelled or moved to a smaller venue. Last year, I was very lucky to see M. Ward at the Petit Campus. He was originally booked at the Corona. This year, Benjamin Booker has his show moved from the Corona to the Sala Rossa.

Back to Fleetwood Mac. I love the album Rumours with its catchy music. Pop rock songs are usually not my thing but in this case the melodies are just too good. I was happy to hear many of the songs from that album. And even songs that weren’t from Rumours I would recognize. Where Max and I differ is our love for the band. I guess I’m not a huge fan like many of the attendees that night. Having Lindsey give a speech between two songs with a certain self-importance bothered me. Max, on the other hand, knows every little detail about them. “This is a nerd talking” he would say before pointing out that Lindsey Buckingham upped the tempo (10% to 15%) to unnerve Stevie Nicks during “Landslide.” I did see some tension between band members but at this point I wonder if it’s real or all for show.

I enjoyed it very much but without getting carried away. Had it been in a smaller venue (in my dreams right?), standing and dancing in a tight crowd to those wonderful songs, I would’ve savored it more.

China Marsot-Wood / RReverb / Monday, February 9, 2015

REVIEW: The gypsy magic is back

I arrived at my seat wearing a fur cape and a newly acquired Fleetwood Mac baseball cap, beer in hand, channeling my inner Miss Nicks, ready to kick it old school to one of the greatest bands in the history of music. The last bit of that previous statement is indisputable; it’s a fact. Little did I know they were about to prove just how iconic they truly are. 

The second they took the stage and started to play the unmistakable first chords of “The Chain” it hit me that there was more magic in that room than at every circus and children’s birthday party in the entire world, ever. I have never in my life seen so many different people, spanning in age from adolescence to old-enough-to-walk-with-a-cane, light up all at once. I don’t mean that in the traditional concert sense, with lighters or cell phones, I mean peoples’ souls lit up.

The fact that they opened the show with four songs off of Rumours (“The Chain,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Dreams” and “Second Hand News”) was enough for me to pack my shit up and go home satisfied but they continued to deliver.

 At one point I had to go pee, and you better believe I ran to the bathroom, and upon realizing my stall was out of toilet paper I asked the lady next to me if she could spare some. She kindly obliged and cheerily added something about how Tusk was a safe song for a bathroom break. I thought, “Hello? There is no’safe song’” and I ran back.

The members of Fleetwood Mac were in visibly good spirits all through the night, laughing and joking with each other, praising each other and even taking little moments to hug and kiss each other. Some of the most notable moments: Stevie’s insane gypsy fashion — which she told a short story about right before singing “Gypsy.” Something about dreaming about shopping at the Velvet Underground store when she was young and broke and harboring a burning desire to channel her inner Janice Joplin and Grace Slick — which was on point as ever. From her various glittery scarves (she wore a gold one during “Gold Dust Woman”! Like…!) to her top hat to her fingerless leather gloves, not to mention her graceful gypsy dance moves. Mick Fleetwood’s energy! The dude is three times my age and did the most epic, ridiculous drum solo I have ever seen, which should be YouTube searched immediately if not sooner. Everything, from the lighting to the melodies to the energy coming from them as a group and as individual artists was perfect.

Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham gave a nice welcoming introduction to Christine McVie for those who were unaware that it was a huge deal that she was even there at all. Buckingham called her return “poetic and prolific.” McVie hadn’t performed with Fleetwood Mac for over 15 years, as Stevie Nicks mentioned again towards the end of the show. Nicks stated that she truly believed it was the “collective energy” of the fans that brought her back, that one morning we must have all been putting that one same thought into the universe and that Christine received the message loud and clear. As Miss Nicks said, “We all know that whatever we ask from the universe, we receive.” I don’t know if that really works, but if the Fairy Godmother of This Galaxy says it does, then I believe her.

They ended with “Go Your Own Way,” which may have been an obvious choice but still one I appreciated the humor in, whether that was intentional or not. There were two encores, the last of which was just Christine sitting at her piano performing “Songbird.” I can’t say I didn’t cry a little. I can’t say I didn’t cry a lot. It truly was one of the most breathtaking moments of my life so far. The image of the spotlight focused just on her and all the aforementioned lighters and cell phones lighting up the Bell Center will forever be etched in my memory.

Stevie told us to never give up on our dreams, Mick told us to remember that the Mac is definitely back. But as they took their final bows I wondered if they were aware that they had never really left at all; not our minds, not our hearts and certainly not our ears. Hopefully they’ll be with us for forty more years to come.

Celina Flores / Montreal Rampage / Sunday, February 8, 2015

VIDEOS 2/5: Bell Centre, Montreal QC

Fleetwood Mac performed in the French Canadian city of Montréal on Thursday night.

Lindsey practiced his limited French to the amusement of the crowd just before performing “Big Love.”

[slideshow_deploy id=’38123′]

Date Venue Location Reviews Show # Total
Thursday, February 5, 2015 Bell Centre Montreal, Quebec
  1. Canoe.ca
  2. Montreal Gazette
  3. Montreal Rampage
  4. Rick Keene Music Scene
11 51

 Videos

Thanks to Eric Blain, Michael Cournoyer, DailyHoneylie, Gilles Gagné, Tammy Jamieson, Rick Keene, Ken Lawenda, Michel M, Dirk Schlimm, ShookMeBaby LucGrisé, smacksaw, and Frank Tremblay for sharing these videos!

The Chain (Frank Tremblay)

The Chain (Tammy Jamieson)

Dreams (Dirk Schlimm)

Dreams (ShookMeBaby LucGrisé)

Dreams (Gilles Gagné)

Rhiannon (smacksaw)

Everywhere (Ken Lawenda)

Tusk (Frank Tremblay)

Say You Love Me (Tammy Jamieson)

Seven Wonders (Eric Blain)

Big Love – short clip (Rick Keene)

Landslide (Frank Tremblay)

Landslide (ShookMeBaby LucGrisé) 

Landslide (smacksaw)

Landslide (Michel M)

Little Lies (ShookMeBaby LucGrisé)

Gold Dust Woman – short clip (Rick Keene)

I’m So Afraid – partial (Rick Keene)

I’m So Afraid – short clip (Frank Tremblay)

Go Your Own Way – short clip (Rick Keene)

World Turning / Band Introductions (ShookMeBaby LucGrisé)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP182Et5XoY

Don’t Stop – sideways for 35 seconds (Michael Cournoyer)

Band Introductions / Don’t Stop  (ShookMeBaby LucGrisé)

Don’t Stop (Ken Lawenda)

Compilation (DailyHoneylie)

Dirk Schlimm
Dirk Schlimm
ShookMeBabyLucGrisé02
ShookMeBabyLucGrisé02

REVIEW: No weak links in The Chain

Concert review: No weak links in Fleetwood Mac’s chain

[slideshow_deploy id=’38123′]

For a band that was once famously defined by personal drama and rancour, Fleetwood Mac’s members were almost as generous toward one another as they were to the nearly 12,400 fans who spent 2 1/2 hours in their company at the Bell Centre Thursday night.

The narrative of this tour is the return of keyboardist Christine McVie, which completes the group’s most popular lineup for the first time since 1998. She certainly received her due welcome from the audience and from her bandmates, but the quintet shared the glory, both between its members and as an ensemble.

And what glory. There’s no new album to promote (although one is in the works), and the most recent numbers in Thursday’s show were from the 1987 disc Tango in the Night, with more than half of the set list drawn from the 1975 self-titled release and 1977’s world-conquering Rumours. But this didn’t feel like a nostalgic evening. The performance was absolutely contemporary and, with McVie back, there was an air both of taking care of unfinished business and setting up a new venture.

The crackling energy was there from the walk-on to “The Chain,” while drummer Mick Fleetwood’s clockwork timekeeping, John McVie’s strapping bass and Lindsey Buckingham’s swampy guitar telegraphed that the band’s locked-in interplay hadn’t diminished. (About the only wrong note of the night was a breakdown in the Bell Centre welcome staff’s usual military efficiency, with security checks causing a chaotic logjam at the entrance.)

Speaking of precision, Stevie Nicks made an early note that this was the 51st show of the tour. “In the beginning, I would have said: a) ‘Welcome, Montreal,’ and second, ‘Welcome, Chris.’ … Today I think we can say, with caution abandoned, ‘She’s ba-ack!’ ”

Charismatic even when she was rooted in place, Nicks went on to lose herself inside “Dreams” before Buckingham — the only member to routinely venture to the lip of the stage — led a bracing “Second Hand News” as if the 38-year-old cut was being shared for the first time. Although Christine McVie’s upper-register vocals were a touch strained in Everywhere (but appealingly earthy everywhere else), that sunny delight was also rejuvenated, and stripped of its ’80s gloss.

Buckingham offered his own welcome to McVie when he spoke of “beginning a profound and prolific new chapter.” It may not have been a coincidence that Fleetwood Mac’s most forward-thinking member said this before a mini-block from 1979’s Tusk, the band’s messy masterpiece of art over commercialism.

The title track’s marching-band strangeness remained delightfully odd — and not just by this group’s classicist standards — with Christine McVie on accordion, Buckingham playing the madman card to the hilt, and three auxiliary players contributing more than the almost imperceptible shading offered elsewhere. Nicks’s carefully possessed lead in Sisters of the Moon was supplemented by haunted harmonies from an understated trio of backup singers.

The quick-change pacing of the show’s first hour or so turned far more casual in the back half, starting with an intimate acoustic section that could have taken place in a club setting. Buckingham made conversation before his solo performance of Big Love, once “a contemplation on alienation and now a meditation on the power and importance of change.” True to his words, the solemn but flashy fingerpicking was a revelation, and far removed from the slick original. Nicks joined Buckingham for “Landslide,” stunning in its stillness, before the duo added a note of darkness to “Never Going Back Again.”

“Over My Head” saw the return of the full band, the introduction of Fleetwood’s front-of-stage “cocktail kit” and a reminiscence from Christine McVie about the time spent “sort of floundering, looking for a new guitarist” before Buckingham joined for the eponymous 1975 album. Setting up “Gypsy,” Nicks offered a history lesson of her own, a touching recollection of window shopping at San Francisco’s Velvet Underground rock-star clothing boutique before she was a star herself. The songs-and-stories format may have helped slow the show’s momentum, but they also helped make one of the top-selling bands in the world seem approachable.

The home stretch included a number of extended showcases: “Gold Dust Woman” climaxed with Nicks swaying across the stage in a glittering shawl; Buckingham enjoyed a caustic centrepiece in “I’m So Afraid”; Fleetwood had the stage to himself for a crazy-eyed shamanic routine in the middle of “World Turning.”

But of course, “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop” were the real climactic crowd-pleasers, with those larger-than-life harmonies as potent as ever. The quintet’s camaraderie was at its strongest in the former, with the tireless Buckingham speeding around Nicks, who had donned a bejewelled top hat, and careering into John McVie.

Fleetwood’s splashy introductions of his colleagues in the encore were brimming with affection: Buckingham with his “beady eye on the future,” Nicks the “eternal romantic,” John McVie “always on my right-hand side,” Christine McVie “making all of this so complete — our songbird has returned.”

Nice tee-up, as McVie returned for a second encore of “Songbird,” delivering her most tender vocal of the night accompanied only by Buckingham. It was a poignant final word, given an equally poignant afterword when Nicks made an endearingly rambling speech. In all her cosmic wisdom, she credited the audience for willing McVie back into the band. Her gratitude for the circle being unbroken tied into Buckingham’s earlier prediction of a “profound and prolific new chapter.” We’ll see about prolific. In light of the rewards from Thursday’s concert, profound is a fait accompli.

jzivitz@montrealgazette.com | twitter.com/jordanzivitz

Jordan Zivitz / Montreal Gazette / Friday, February 6, 2015