At GM Place on Friday, May 15
If ever there was a mutual effort in denial, it would be the classic rock cash-grab reunion tour. Embittered bandmates pretend to put their differences aside for “the love of the music”. And in exchange, hard-core fans shell out hundreds of dollars and convince themselves their idols’ coke-ravaged voices can still deliver the goods.
This was pretty much the case at the packed Fleetwood Mac show on Friday. If it weren’t for Lindsey Buckingham’s superlative guitar-playing, the concert would have been a total washout. The reason? Well let’s say that, to put things charitably, the voices of Buckingham and Stevie Nicks seemed a little fried.
As a result, almost every song was a total tease. The intros to the classics were strong and instantly recognizable, but as soon as the ’70s survivors started singing, it became painfully obvious that the sweet blow-fuelled harmonies of yesteryear are long gone.
Maybe Buckingham and Nicks just needed a big fat rail for old times’ sake, to loosen up the ol’ vocal cords, or maybe they needed former bandmate and “Songbird” songstress Christine McVie to pick up the slack. But, then again, maybe her sagging vocal cords are shot to hell, as well.
I’m not sure if the way the four remaining Fleetwood Mac members were positioned on the stage was meant to compensate for McVie’s absence. For whatever reason, Buckingham and Nicks were so far apart that they had to use a split screen to show them both on the JumboTron at the same time. And they weren’t even in the same time zone during the predictable spotlight moments.
In fact, the former lovers didn’t really connect until about halfway into the show, during “Sara”, when Nicks awkwardly reached her hands out to Buckingham and he leaned his head on her heavily padded shoulder. But their hips and chests still weren’t touching, so it looked more like two grade eights slow dancing rather than a couple of old friends warmly embracing.
Performance-wise, the highlight was the always-beautiful, pared-down “Landslide”. Nicks had this acoustically led ballad down to a T, and the bonus was that it didn’t require much energy, which was good because it didn’t look as though the, um, full-figured singer had a lot to spare. Her eyes were at half-mast almost the entire show. Too much NeoCitran? Bad plastic surgery? Who knows? But I got sleepy just looking at her.
And it wasn’t just her lids that looked heavy. I couldn’t see what kind of shoes Nicks was wearing, but they seemed to be weighing her feet down like cement blocks. So instead of looking like an ethereal and majestic Gypsy in her black-lace finery, as she attempted to twirl across the stage (her one big dance move of the night), the ultimate goddess of rock ’n’ roll excess looked more like a well-fed Wiccan lumbering around the Maypole in a Beltane fertility ritual.
It was kind of sad. But, hey, the first 20 rows or so seemed to be enjoying it.
Other standouts included “Big Love”, in which Buckingham unleashed a wicked acoustic guitar solo. Later, Buckingham got his blues on with “Oh Well”, a Fleetwood Mac song that was written before he and Nicks joined the band.
After burning through 20-plus hits, they left us with “Don’t Stop”—an ironic choice, considering it might be time for these classic-rock dinosaurs to seriously think about shutting it down.