After not touring with Fleetwood Mac for 16 years, Christine McVie greets the Consol Energy Center crowd after their concert’s second song, “You Make Loving Fun,” which she wrote for the “Rumours” album.
“Sweet, wonderful you.”
They were the first three words we clearly heard from Christine McVie Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center, opening the second song, “You Make Loving Fun,” and it got the ecstatic greeting you would expect from the packed house.
It was the first time we’ve heard that voice here since September 1997 (at Star Lake), a year before Ms. McVie left the group after 27 years due to her fear of flying. Now, at last, she’s back on board and the band saluted that by hitting the stage with a rousing version of “The Chain,” a rocker about unbreakable bonds.
“Welcome, Pittsburgh!” Stevie Nicks shouted. “And welcome back, Chris! She hasn’t told us what she’s been doing the last 16 years, but I’m sure she will. … The story will come out at some point.”
Ms. McVie’s extended absence left Ms. Nicks alone with the boys — singer-guitarist/ex-flame Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie (Ms. McVie’s ex) — and also left a number of the band’s classic hits out of the set list. Of course, with Fleetwood Mac, there were plenty left to fill a two-plus hour show, but it sure was nice to see the revival of “You Make Loving Fun,” “Say You Love Me,” “Over My Head” and others.
Ms. McVie, one of three Brits in the bunch, is known for her warm, smoky vocals, to go with the raspy, husky ones of Ms. Nicks. At 71 and 66, respectively, they don’t sound like they did on the records, which is to be expected, but there’s still so much beauty, melody and character in those voices.
Ms. Nicks’ “Rhiannon,” for instance, is rough around the edges, but more haunting than ever and, clad in black with her flowing shawl, she remains just as bewitching. “Dreams” was a gem, as was “Seven Wonders,” which she dedicated to a character in “American Horror Story.” She only got better as the show went on, soaring to the rafters on “Landslide,” “Gypsy” and “Gold Dust Woman,” a show-stopper with tortured wails and a witchy dance in sparkly golden shawl.
Ms. McVie hasn’t worked that vocal muscle as much over the years, and it showed, but her songs do call more for a simple purity of tone that she was able to muster. Three backup singers in the shadows added some extra heft to the harmonies. (There were also two backing musicians, and a percussionist hidden behind Mr. Fleetwood.)
Lindsey? My goodness. At 65, he’s still a kid, still the energy force in the band, with blazing chops and a voice that can cut through a fog. He ran wild on the percussive romp of “Tusk” (with the USC Marching Band on the screen) and was practically pogoing as he blew through “Second Hand News.” Once again, he sent them all off for “Big Love,” his passionate exercise in acoustic speed metal, did magical finger-picking on “Never Going Back Again” and all but ripped off the strings on the maniacal “I’m So Afraid” solo.
He introduced “I Know I’m Not Wrong” saying, “Fleetwood Mac is a group that continues to evolve, continues to prevail, through the adversity and the good times, especially now with the return of beautiful Christine. We have begun a beautiful new chapter in the history of Fleetwood Mac.”
For now, this chapter is infusing new energy into a bottomless catalog of classic songs, romantically entangled hits that truly hit home with adoring fans raised on ’70s radio.
As usual, they were generous with them, going well beyond the two-hour mark and powering the climax with the likes of a knock-out “Go Your Own Way,” a percussive “World Turning” with Mr. Fleetwood’s drum insanity and celebratory “Don’t Stop.”
And let’s hope they don’t, because these five amazing musicians, who somehow found each other across an ocean and a continent, still have the ability to take us to paradise.
- The Chain
- You Make Loving Fun
- Second Hand News
- I Know I’m Not Wrong
- Sisters of the Moon
- Say You Love Me
- Seven Wonders
- Big Love (Lindsey solo, acoustic)
- Never Going Back Again (Lindsey solo, acoustic)
- Over My Head
- Little Lies
- Gold Dust Woman
- I’m So Afraid
- Go Your Own Way
- World Turning (Mick drum solo)
- Don’t Stop
- Silver Springs
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576.
Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Tuesday, October 15, 2014