Every night is a little emotional when you’re the mystical gods and goddesses of pop rock, but Tuesday evening at Target Center in Minneapolis, the members of Fleetwood Mac were feeling particularly soft and fuzzy—towards their fans, and especially towards Christine McVie, the songwriter/vocalist/keyboardist who rejoined the band for the first time on stage since 1998.
It was the first show of what feels like a reunion tour. Though the other four core band members—Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks—have toured together and even released an album since McVie’s departure, on Tuesday night they clearly felt whole again. The night was peppered with references to McVie’s return, from Buckingham’s awkward reference to the return of a “presence”; to Fleetwood’s happy declaration that “we have our songbird back”; to Nicks’s cheer of “Welcome back, Chris!” Only McVie—Christine’s ex-husband—kept stolidly silent, as is generally his wont.
The set list strongly spotlighted Christine McVie’s songs: after an opening rendition of “The Chain,” the house roared for McVie’s “You Make Loving Fun.” 1975′s “Say You Love Me” also found its way into the setlist, as well as the Christine-McVie-led 80s hits “Everywhere” and “Little Lies.” McVie was even given the honor of closing the night, taking a grand piano to sing her signature “Songbird.”
Though Buckingham seemed as glad as anyone to have Christine McVie back, there was no danger that his ego wouldn’t be given room to roam. A solo acoustic “Big Love” was a shout-y showpiece for the man Fleetwood referred to as having “the mentorship of the musical side of this band well in hand,” and an extended solo on “I’m So Afraid” demonstrated why Buckingham is a revered axeman. “Never Going Back,” unfortunately, expanded from its concise original version to a bloated extended take that had Nicks repeatedly leaving her mike and probably going to play Skyrim, or take a shot, or anything else many of the rest of us wished we could be doing too.
Buckingham and Nicks—who joined Fleetwood Mac together in 1974, as musical and romantic partners—seemed downright cozy, once strolling on stage arm in arm as Buckingham planted a kiss on his former lover’s forehead. Nicks brought plenty of her trademark gold-dust-woman touches (yes, of course the band played that song), including scarves, a top hat, a tambourine with streamers, and some twirling dance moves. Her songs, including “Landslide” and “Silver Springs,” were among the most straightforward of the evening, but she seemed comfortable and confident throughout. After the fact, she dedicated “Gypsy” to “my one and only husband” (Kim Anderson, to whom she was married for eight months in the early 80s), who she said was at the show.
Fleetwood, per usual, just looked ecstatic. Why wouldn’t he be? The band bearing his name—the “Mac” comes from John McVie, another early member—has lived at least nine lives since its advent in the late British Invasion, and it’s still going strong. Fleetwood Mac still play with unimpeachable musicality and the galloping force that’s always distinguished them from the bands played alongside them on soft-rock radio. Their instrumental chops are fully intact, and their voices—which were always more about expression than explosion—have weathered well.
Accompanied by two backup vocalists and two supporting multi-instrumentalists, the quintet stood on a large stage (none of the fancy lifts and second stages you find in younger acts’ arena shows, I guess because this show is “about the music” or something) with new-agey visuals projected on a screen behind them. Some of the visuals—notably an animation of Buckingham’s head that resembled both the Wizard of Oz and Max Headroom—were wincingly bad, but for the crowd featuring at least one man wearing a Canadian tuxedo embroidered with an Eagles logo, visual aesthetics clearly weren’t a priority.
There was much talk of the band’s future, which was nice to hear, whatever it means. Fortunately for fans of the band’s seminal discography, neither future hopes nor past regrets are keeping Fleetwood Mac from celebrating their long-awaited reunion right here in the present, embracing that musical chain that’s brought them together again.
“The Chain” (Rumours, 1977)
“You Make Loving Fun” (Rumours)
“Second Hand News” (Rumours)
“Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac, 1975)
“Everywhere” (Tango in the Night, 1987)
“I Know I’m Not Wrong” (Tusk, 1979)
“Sisters of the Moon” (Tusk)
“Say You Love Me” (Fleetwood Mac)
“Seven Wonders” (Tango in the Night)
“Big Love” (Tango in the Night)
“Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac)
“Never Going Back Again” (Rumours)
“Over My Head” (Fleetwood Mac)
“Gypsy” (Mirage, 1982)
“Little Lies” (Tango in the Night)
“Gold Dust Woman” (Rumours)
“I’m So Afraid” (Fleetwood Mac)
“Go Your Own Way” (Rumours)
“World Turning” (Fleetwood Mac)
“Don’t Stop” (Rumours)
“Silver Springs” (“Go Your Own Way” b-side, 1977)
Jay Gabler / The Current / Wednesday, October 1, 2014