Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Orlando Review: Fleetwood Mac turns back the clock at Amway Arena

When it comes to nostalgia, Fleetwood Mac’s "Unleashed" tour occupies the same neighborhood as the Eagles latest reunion trek.

Like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac reliably delivered a boatload of vintage hits in a generous 2 hours and 20 minutes on Monday at Amway Arena.

Unleashed, however, implies a sense of abandon and risk that Fleetwood Mac doesn’t reach that often. Instead, band members Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and John McVie offer a combination of precision and pacing.

It’s a decent trade.

With keyboardist Christine McVie now retired from the band, it was pretty much the Buckingham-Nicks show. Although the duo harmonizes as well as ever on the signature songs, it was hard for longtime fans not to miss the sweetness of McVie’s voice in the mix. A trio of backing vocalists and two additional musicians added texture to the hits.

And there wasn’t any shortage of them: "The Chain," "Dreams" "Gypsy," "Rhiannon," "Second Hand News," "Say You Love Me," "Go Your Own Way." Hearing them again, for those of a certain age, is as much a reminder of a bygone radio era as the band’s formidable catalog.

At age 60 (!), Nicks is still a mystical presence, even if she mostly stands in silhouette with her beaded capes instead of doing those spins.

Buckingham, at the same age, remains an under-appreciated guitarist capable of intricate acoustic picking and fiery rock-star heroics.

His creative abuse of an electric guitar in "I’m So Afraid" and other solos offered the best justification for that "unleashed" title.

Nicks and Buckingham were pretty chatty, too. She introduced "Gypsy" by explaining that "there are many meanings to a song, not just one." He aptly described "Second Hand News" as a song that dealt with the band’s fractious personal relationships "with a lot of humor, a lot of optimism and certainly a lot of aggression."

In a rare departure from the familiar arrangements, the band offered slight twist on "Never Going Back Again," slowing it down into a moodier ballad.

The Nicks-Buckingham chemistry ignited sparks in that song, a lovely version of "Landslide" and in "Sara," when she gently rested her head on his shoulder.

At such moments, when it was evident how much of the band’s history was tied up in the music, nostalgia just wasn’t enough to cover it.

Article by Jim Abbott, Orlando Sentinel

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