Fleetwood Mac performs live at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee during ‘On with the Show’ tour
Rating: * * * * * (5 stars)
On the road since August 2014, Fleetwood Mac pulled into Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Bradley Center on Feb. 12 for their “On with the Show” tour. Performing without an opening act, it was the 54th show on this extensive trek and featured the five core members who took the band to multiplatinum success with the chart-topping Rumours in 1977.
Christine McVie rejoined Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on this tour for the first time since her retirement in 1998. Opening with “The Chain” seemed an appropriate start to the show and quickly brought fans to their feet. “You Make Loving Fun” followed as a de facto tribute to Christine’s return to the band.
Major vocal highlights of the show included Buckingham’s acoustic and cathartic “Big Love,” McVie’s beautifully harmonic “You Make Loving Fun,” and Nicks’ haunting breakup anthem “Silver Springs,” arguably her best performance of the night next to “Gold Dust Woman.”
McVie, Nicks and Buckingham indulged the audience by sharing their memories and inspiration for certain songs during the show. Nicks shared a particularly poignant story when she introduced early ’80s hit “Gypsy.” She spoke to the audience about her first trip to San Francisco’s famed Velvet Underground clothing store in the ‘60s that’s referenced in the song. This store was frequented by Janis Joplin and Nicks’ memory of being there offered a sweet, deeply personal look into her starstruck thoughts of Janis Joplin before eventually achieving rock stardom herself.
Musically the show was without flaw. The rhythm tandem of John McVie and Fleetwood on bass and drums, respectively, served as a solid backbone. However, it was Buckingham on guitar who provided the heart and musical fabric that set the tone for the entire production. Buckingham pumped vitality into the show—bouncing around the stage and remaining at the forefront for most of the evening. His technical chops and unique guitar play continue to be a perfect complement to Mick and John. “I’m So Afraid” best showcased that intricate relationship given the constant battle between guitar and rhythm throughout the song.
Fleetwood Mac finished their set proper more than two hours after it began with crowd-favorite, “Go Your Own Way.” They returned for an encore that began with “World Turning,” featuring Mick Fleetwood’s percussive prowess. Fleetwood clearly relished his drum solo during the song that included an eccentric call and response between him and the audience. Christine then led them through “Don’t Stop” before Nicks finished with “Silver Springs.” They returned for a second encore to perform “Songbird” that reaffirmed Christine’s triumphant return to the band, and offered a perfect bookend to the show. Mick sat proudly in Christine’s shadow, listening and dramatically tipping his red top hat to her as she played the final song of the night.
Their setlist has remained fixed for the duration of the tour, and was chosen to highlight each member’s talents while also reflecting upon their bevy of hit singles. With a band of Fleetwood Mac’s caliber, fan base and massive catalog they’re not going to hit on everybody’s personal favorite song. However, it would be nice if they left room for a few songs that rotate each night for a surprise deep cut or other favorite hitnin lieu of performing the identical show each night. That said, they’ve cultivated the concert into a finely tuned machine.
This band has been touring and playing together for more than 35 years and it shows. They have a unique and remarkable chemistry and sound. And, despite Buckingham’s numerous references to being an old man, he and the Mac still delivered a commanding two-and-a-half hour performance.
Remaining Fleetwood Mac 2015 tour dates:
Feb. 14 – Rosemont, Ill. @ Allstate Arena
Feb. 17 – Louisville, Kent. @ KFC YUM! Center
Feb. 18 – Cleveland, Ohio @ Quicken Loans Arena
March 1 – Austin, Texas @ Frank Erwin Center
March 3 – Houston, Texas @ Toyota Center
March 4 – Dallas, Texas @ American Airlines Center
March 7 – Charlotte, N.C. @ Time Warner Cable Arena
March 8 – Knoxville, Tenn. @ Thompson – Boling Arena
March 11 – North Little Rock, Ark. @ Verizon Arena
March 12 – Oklahoma City, Okla. @ Chesapeake Energy Arena
March 15 – Charlottesville, Va. @ John Paul Jones Arena
March 17 – Greensboro, N.C. @ Greensboro Coliseum
March 18 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Bridgestone Arena
March 21 – Miami, Fla. @ American Airlines Arena
March 23 – Orlando, Fla. @ Amway Center
March 25 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Philips Arena
March 27 – St. Louis, Mo. @ Scottrade Center
March 28 – Kansas City, Mo. @ Sprint Center
March 31 – Wichita, Kans. @ INTRUST Bank Arena
April 1 – Denver, Colo. @ Pepsi Center
April 4 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Rogers Arena
April 6 – Bakersfield, Calif. @ Rabobank Arena
April 7 – Oakland, Calif. @ Oracle Arena
April 10 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Forum
April 11 – Las Vegas, Nev. @ MGM Grand Garden Arena
April 14 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Forum
May 27 – London, U.K. @ O2 Arena
May 28 – London, U.K. @ O2 Arena
May 31 – Amsterdam @ Ziggo Dome
June 1 – Amsterdam @ Ziggo Dome
Daniel DeSlover / Madison Music Examiner / Saturday, February 14, 2015