Fleetwood Mac Unleashed in Cleveland

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1 juin 2009, 4h52m

Fri 17 Apr – Fleetwood Mac Unleashed: Hits Tour 2009

This review of Fleetwood Mac's Cleveland stop on their current "Unleashed: Greatest Hits" Tour is over six weeks late, but here's a few thoughts and the setlist anyway, since I saw that no one else posted a review of the show. I also thought it might make a good advance reminder of the Fleetwood Mac Marathon* coming up on June 11 (see end of this post for links)!

My first thought is one that may raise the ire of ultra-devoted Steve Nicks fans: live Fleetwood Mac shows are increasingly dominated by Lindsey Buckingham. I mean this in terms of power of leading performance. I don't really think either Mick Fleetwood or John McVie have lost their power to deliver, either individually or together as one of the best rhythm sections in business, but as far as fronting the band, it simply takes too long for Stevie to get warmed up. I don't say this lightly, as my favorite FM songs from this version of the group are songs which have been written and sung by her.

I want her performance to be strong, but I'm just being as objective as I can here: it's really not until about halfway throught the set that she gets going. I had this same thought after the last time I saw them in June of 2004, and just chalked it up to maybe an off night, but it struck me again this time. The key moment where she seems to "turn on" occurs after she disappears for Lindsey's performance of "Big Love" and then comes back for her "Landslide." But that's too bad, and way too late, because my very favorites of hers are all in the first half of the set. Both "Dreams" and "Gypsy" just seemed to be flat, and even her signature song "Rhiannon" just didn't come off as "spellbinding" as we would hope it to be. She finally seems to be getting there by the time they get to "Sara" which comes just before "Big Love."

By comparison, Lindsey is on fire right out of the gate. He cracked a couple on classic opener "Monday Morning" but is already roaring by the time he delivers his share of "The Chain" (second song in). By the time they get to "Second Hand News" and "Tusk" he's just totally owning. My personal highlight of the show is his pinnacle moment, when they go back and do Peter Green's "Oh Well" (see videos at end). That's saying a lot coming from me, especially if you know that the Peter Green era has always been my favorite, but I have to admit that Lindsey more-than-adequately "brings it" here.

So why the difference? Well, it's no secret that Fleetwood Mac have been off the road the last 4½ years because Lindsey had to get some solo albums "out of his system" and the band have an agreement that they won't do any touring that will conflict with any projects that the others want to be doing. So while Lindsey did Under The Skin and Gift of Screws, we've all been waiting, starting first and foremost with Mick, who would do next to nothing else but tour FM continuously if he could. But there's wisdom in that agreement, I think, and it shows in this. The solo work and time away from FM is exactly what it takes to coax this kind of strong performance from Lindsey. Maybe Stevie should also get busy in the interim times and work on some new work beyond repackaging the previous stuff, and I mean that in the kindest way.

My remaining comments are interleaved with the setlist. Everything comes from the five multi-platinum albums that featured the superstar lineup that included Christine McVie, from Fleetwood Mac to Tango in the Night, with the exception of three tracks*. They are not touring to support a current album, and they do not cover Say You Will, which is what they toured behind last time, and frankly doesn't contribute to their collection of "greatest" hits.

Monday Morning
The Chain
Dreams
I Know I'm Not Wrong
Gypsy
*Go Insane (this is not the version performed live the last few tours, but a performance of the original Go Insane from Lindsey's 1984 album of the same name)
Rhiannon
Second Hand News
Tusk
Sara
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Storms (I believe when Stevie introduced this that she said they have never performed this live before this tour)
Say You Love Me (the only token Christine song, sung by Stevie - and nowhere near as good - just makes us miss Ms McVie more!)
Gold Dust Woman
*Oh Well (from Then Play On)
I'm So Afraid (If I remember correctly, this song was preceded by a bit of awesome, cranium-rattling bass vibes from John!)
*Stand Back (from Stevie’s 1983 album The Wild Heart)
Go Your Own Way

World Turning (begun with an extended, audience-participation drum solo from Mick, natch)
Don't Stop
Silver Springs

I took both a digital camera and the cellphone with me into the show, even though they emphatically stated "no cameras." (Well, in a venue this size and a group like this, you don't get patted down and can usually do OK as long as you don't draw attention to yourself with a useless flash.) Despite having both, the distance to the stage with the tools I had to work with just really didn't work out. Not sure why they get so worked up over cameras. Out of the 100+ pictures I took, this is really the only one that's halfway decent. At least this one features Mick out in front of his main kit:



I did manage to get most of "Oh Well" recorded, though. I stupidly fumbled with the controls just before they started so I managed to miss the first couple of seconds, but otherwise the audio seems to be OK, even with a good bass sound. Sorry the visual isn't so hot, but if you look at the video screens, you can make out a couple of Mick's famous funny faces:



If you want a much better recording from down near the stage that focuses on Lindsey (as it should), check out this from Chicago a few weeks earlier (though I actually think the performance was even better by the time they got here to Cleveland!):



Though there's been previous statements that there are no definite plans post-tour, Lindsey stated during the show that they would be convening to work on (or get back to, according to some reports) new material for another album. So maybe we'll be closer to that a year from now!

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/

*Don't miss a full 18 commercial-free hours of Fleetwood Mac and FM-related music on June 11th, starting at 7AM eastern time in the U.S. (UTC-4). A production of WBWC, a college radio station located right here in the Cleveland area. You can stream it live via this link, and they've got a toll free number if you're here in the States and want to try for the giveaways!
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Fleetwood Mac

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