The Fleetwood Mac set list Thursday at the packed Allstate Arena was straight out of the ‘70s, but Lindsey Buckingham was very much in the present tense on the quartet’s latest reunion tour.
The leather-jacketed guitarist played like his graying hair was on fire most of the night, throwing himself into the songs with a gusto that frequently erupted into manic howls and fleet-fingered, shrapnel-tossing solos. Buckingham pulled the 23 creaky songs out of the long-lost “Rumours” era and into the now, with enthusiastic assistance from drummer Mick Fleetwood.
With the stalwart bassist John McVie at his side, Fleetwood looked like he had just popped out of a Dickens novel, a towering, pony-tailed Fagin in knickers. For all the mugging and preening, he pounded the drums with maniacal glee, blending bluesy firepower with orchestral flair. The inventively propulsive drum parts on songs such as “Rhiannon,” “Go Your Own Way” and “World Turning” colored the arrangements with authority, and matched Buckingham’s passion.
Stevie Nicks was the only member of this revived version of the band’s classic ‘70s lineup (minus singer-songwriter Christine McVie, who retired from the business years ago) who wasn’t quite up to speed as the show began. Her voice has not only deepened, it has lost much of its flexibility, and her performances of “Gypsy” and “Rhiannon” fell flat. She re-accessorized continually with boots, dresses, shawls, scarves, tambourines and even a top hat as the show progressed over two-plus hours. Halfway through the set, she finally shook off the doldrums and audibly rose to the occasion on “Landslide,” accompanied only by Buckingham’s guitar.
“I’m getting older, too,” Nicks sang with soaring, if melancholy conviction. By the time she trotted out her solo hit “Stand Back,” she felt frisky enough to revive one of her trademark twirls.
But it all would’ve been little more than a quaint rehash of a bunch of golden oldies were it not for Buckingham. He started strong, pushing his voice hard on “Monday Morning,” and by the end of the set was finger-picking shrieking, gale-force solos from his instrument, reanimating Peter Green’s early Mac classic “Oh Well” and investing “I’m So Afraid” with scarifying intensity. Wired and still wiry, Buckingham looked like he could’ve raved all night with this rhythm section at his back.