It’s a time-honored tradition that touring musicians will mangle the pronunciation of “Des Moines.” Those Ses throw everyone off. Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena it was Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie who got tripped up. To be fair, she had a good excuse.
“It’s been many a year since I’ve been in the city,” McVie said after making a small error she was probably unaware of. While Fleetwood Mac last played Des Moines less than two years ago, McVie hasn’t been a regular part of the band in 17 years.
The crowd got a heaping helping of McVie during the show. After starting the show with the group effort “The Chain,” McVie launched into “You Make Loving Fun,” a song long absent from Fleetwood Mac sets.
“Tonight’s our 54th show,” singer Stevie Nicks said of the current tour. “In the beginning of our 54 shows, at this point in the show I would say ‘Welcome Des Moines’ and ‘Welcome Back, Christine.’ Now that we’re on our 54th show, we can just proceed with ‘She’s back!’ Let’s get this party started!”
Fleetwood Mac stuck closely to its classic material, following the first two songs with two more from Rumours, “Dreams” and “Second Hand News,” which gave Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham a shot at lead vocals. From there the band went back a little further, to 1975’s self-titled album with Nicks singing “Rhiannon.”
The newest material came from 1987’s Tango in the Night, with “Everywhere,” “Big Love” and “Seven Wonders” getting play. “Seven Wonders” got some added attention last year in the finale of the series American Horror Story and Nicks gave the show a shout out after finishing.
“I found out Des Moines means city of monks,” Nicks told the crowd. “No, river of monks. Since I don’t know anyone here, I’m dedicating this next song to the river of monks.”
Well, she pronounced it right. And she followed that with “Landslide,” accompanied by only Buckingham. From there Nicks left the spotlight, with Buckingham remaining to start “Never Going Back Again” solo, with Nicks eventually rejoining him on backing vocals.
I can’t compare the show to 2013’s performance, but the crowd at Wells Fargo Arena was enraptured. The cheers after certain songs probably would have gone on indefinitely if Fleetwood Mac didn’t start another song.
It was largely a mellow night of music, with Buckingham occasionally living things up a bit with songs like “I Know I’m Not Wrong” and “Tusk.” Some of the highs aren’t as high as they were 40 years ago, but the voices of McVie, Nicks and Buckingham have held up surprisingly well over the years.
There were a few rambling stories told by Nicks and Buckingham, which chances are doubled as resting periods for the other members, but the audience never seemed to get restless.
During “Gypsy,” the band gathered around Nicks, including drummer Mick Fleetwood, who moved up to a smaller drum set. At the song’s end she gave the crowd one of her signature twirls, showing off her signature layered look. From there Fleetwood returned to his main drum set and McVie, Nicks and Buckingham belted out “Little Lies,” giving the show another upswing of energy.
Toward the end of the main set, the band started jamming out a bit with “Gold Dust Woman” and “I’m So Afraid.” Before leaving the stage they closed things out with the crowd pleasing “Go Your Own Way.”
Fleetwood Mac returned from a brief break to take the stage with “World Turning,” broken up by a drum solo along with some “woos” and “Yeahs” from Fleetwood. The band got the crowd on its feet with “Don’t Stop,” before closing out the first encore with “Silver Springs.”
“Thank you very much, that means more than you could ever know to me,” Nicks said after finishing.”
When introducing the band and backing musicians during the first encore, Fleetwood singled out McVie with “Our songbird has returned!” So it seems fitting that the show would close out with McVie taking the stage solo to perform “Songbird” before being joined by Buckingham.
In my review of The Eagles, I pointed out that I was never really a fan of the band, and despite the fact that it was a quality show they didn’t pull me into the fan category. Similarly, I didn’t grow up listening to Fleetwood Mac. During a rebellious teenager phase I even proclaimed to friends that I disliked the band. I was wrong, I’m pretty sure I’m a fan now. Wednesday’s show was the straw that broke the critic’s indifferent back.
Despite almost all the songs being more than 30 years old, the show didn’t feel like a band that was just trotting out the old hits. McVie’s return last year seems to have re-energized the band. If this was Fleetwood Mac’s last Des Moines show, they went out on a high note, even the singers voices couldn’t hit all the high notes they used to.
Joe Lawler / Juice Magazine / Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Joe Lawler Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at joe@dmJuice.com or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler