Fleetwood Mac plows through a 22-song set like gleaming pros.
Photos by Daniel Petty
If you’re like me, and it’s not impossible that you are, you grew up vaguely aware of Fleetwood Mac. You thought of the band’s music as something primarily designed for parents, like chardonnay or station wagons. It wasn’t until you listened to it at a party in college, surrounded by people who were a bit older and cooler than you, that you realized it was also something for you. Something that deserved the critical praise and karaoke treatment it always got. Something really good.
Those thoughts wouldn’t leave me last night as I watched the band play its second, capacity Pepsi Center show in the span of four months. The Rumours-era lineup, which includes recent and utterly indispensable returning member Christine McVie, plowed through a 22-song set like gleaming pros. Most of the audience was middle-aged and seated, and happily so. But despite the frequent, between-song nostalgia from Stevie Nicks (resplendent and witchy), Lindsey Buckingham and a circumspect McVie, the band proved its music doesn’t belong to one generation. We all own “Rhiannon,” is what I’m saying. And it owns us.
The band’s got its moves down, but it wasn’t just going through the motions. How many times has Stevie Nicks twirled in circles to “Gypsy,” her frilly black cuffs brushing the beaded necklaces on her mic stand? This is show business, not a feel-good creative lark, but it’s clear these things occasionally overlap. Scrutinizing the band members’ faces as they talked about the drama, breakups, rehab stints, etc. only reinforced how mysterious they remain. This was show No. 73 of their current tour, an improbably energized Buckingham told the audience near the beginning. But the 10-piece band (which included some truly great backup singers) belted out every golden, honeyed melody, aurally iconic riff and tumbling percussive passage like it was their first in years.
“Let’s get the party started!” Nicks encouraged us, adorably, after “Dreams.” The tie-dyed dads and toe-tapping moms obliged, mouthing every word to “Second Hand News” and “Big Love.” Mick Fleetwood’s subtly insistent drumming was the heartbeat. Buckingham’s leads were the neural electricity. Hearing these classic songs rendered so impeccably was like watching Salvador Dali re-paint one of his masterpieces from memory, on demand. The band found an expert balance between slavish imitation of its 39-year-old recordings and melodic variations of well-worn choruses — even if Stevie took the vocal low road on a few songs.
How does a band successfully revive something so embalmed in our memories? Fleetwood Mac is entirely conscious of its legacy, which it gently attempted to revise with each practiced, between-song speech. Buckingham never actually said, “We were all sexually cannibalistic cokeheads while we were making this music four decades ago.” But he talked around it in his socially-conscious, post-hippie SoCal spiritual way. As his frenzied solos unfurled, it was hard to not wanna hug the skinny little proto-emo freak. Nicks smiled wisely during the “Landslide” line “I’m getting older, too,” which was dedicated to a family member in the audience going through some drama. Her theatrical rendering of that song and Buckingham’s “Never Going Back Again,” which he slowed down and teased the audience with, gave me chills. I saw tears on the faces of more than one person. We all had chills.
You Make Lovin’ Fun
Second Hand News
I Know I’m Not Wrong
Sisters of the Moon
Say You Love Me
Never Going Back
Over My Head
Go Your Own Way
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John Wenzel is an A&E reporter and critic for The Denver Post. Follow him @johnwenzel.
John Wenzel / Denver Post / Thursday, April 2, 2015