Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cleveland Review: Fleetwood Mac doesn't stop thinking about yesteryear in hit-stacked concert at The Q

"Ooooo, don't you look back," Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks sang at the end of "Don't Stop."

And if the irony of singing "Ooooo, don't you look back" after spending more than two hours doing nothing but looking back wasn't lost on them, they didn't show it.

Without a new album to promote, Fleetwood Mac stared deep into the rearview mirror Friday night at The Q, yielding a concert stacked with classic-rock hits.

A sprightly "Monday Morning" got the proceedings off to a galloping start, followed in short order by "The Chain" and "Dreams." The arena was approximately two-thirds full, with most of the top tier curtained off.

Half-apologizing for not having any fresh material to play, Buckingham explained the rationale behind the band's latest road trip: "Let's just go out there and have fun."

Mission accomplished, to the tune of guaranteed crowd-pleasers such as "Gypsy," "Tusk" and "Go Your Own Way."

Besides Buckingham and Nicks, the core lineup included founding members Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass. They're all in their 60s.

In the middle of several particularly intense musical passages, various band members clutched their chests, feigning cardiac arrest. At least it looked as if they were only faking it.

Two sidemen and three backing vocalists fleshed out the sound nicely, especially on the intricate, harmony-laden "Sara."

A twangy stab at "Say You Love Me" (originally popularized by Christine McVie, who went her own way more than a decade ago) was among the evening's few surprises. Ditto a suitably overcast "Storms," a ballad off 1979's "Tusk" album that Fleetwood Mac hadn't played live prior to this tour.

Buckingham and Nicks also touched on their solo careers, by way of "Go Insane" and "Stand Back," respectively.

Early on, Buckingham joked about the group's "fairly complex and convoluted emotional history." As usual, that history was milked for all it's worth.

The poignant "Landslide" was a highlight, with ex-lovers Buckingham and Nicks alone onstage for a stripped-down duet. They also looked into each other's eyes as they traded barbs via "Second Hand News."

The latter tune was prefaced with a long-winded introduction courtesy of Buckingham, who babbled on about "emotional opposites" and the song's elements of sadness, aggression and humor.

He fared better when he let the music do the talking, most notably when he punctuated a jaw-dropping "I'm So Afraid" with a cathartic guitar solo.

At times, you got the impression that Buckingham might snap up there -- and thank goodness. His emotionally raw vocals and unhinged guitar heroics stole the show.

Sure, this was essentially one big nostalgia trip. Yet thanks largely to Buckingham's efforts, at least it was a trip worth taking.

For her part, Nicks was in fine voice as she led various well-received excursions into the mystic, via "Rhiannon" and other spellbinding oldies. And if there was any lingering doubt about it, "Gold Dust Woman" reaffirmed that nobody -- but nobody -- works a shawl like Fleetwood Mac's leading lady.

- By John Soeder,

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