Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fleetwood Mac - March 21, 2009

As a Christmas present for my wife, I purchased two tickets to see Fleetwood Mac in concert. My wife is a huge Stevie Nicks fan and also a fan of Fleetwood Mac, so I thought tickets would make for a nice surprise. She was radiant with glee when receiving them on Christmas morning.

On a chilly Saturday afternoon in March, we set out to see the show at the IZOD center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Fleetwood Mac performed two nights earlier at Madison Square Garden and I had read some of the reviews knowing they were playing a lot of hits on this tour. There was no new disc to support, so the band could perform any song they preferred from their vast catalog. The reviews were good and the anticipation of seeing them live was raised.

We got inside the arena approximately 20 minutes before the show was scheduled to start, which meant there was more than 40 minutes before the band would really take the stage. There was no opening act, so Cathy and I sat, people watched, observed the stage set up, and waited for the band to arrive. This is always my favorite part of any concert, that moment of anticipation when you are wondering when the band will take the stage. What will they open with? How will they sound? I love sitting there with heightened anxiety, just waiting for those lights to go dark and the roar of the crowd.

Just before 8:30 a loud, cricket-like noise filled the arena, the house lights dimmed (but didn’t go out) and we all knew something was about to happen. When the cricket buzz got to the stage of annoyance, the house lights darkened, and the band emerged onto the stage. Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, and Lindsey Buckingham - hello Fleetwood Mac!

I had never seen Fleetwood Mac before, and was looking forward to their performance. I was a little disappointed that they were without Christie McVie, but understand her decision to not tour anymore, choosing to do different things with her life.

My father was a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and the one person that really got me into the band. Rumors is one of the 10 albums that changed my life, thanks to my Dad, and so I knew this was going to be an emotional evening for me. My father never saw Fleetwood Mac before he passed away, and it is one band that I always associate with his memory. Whenever I hear their songs, I pause and think of my Dad, who went to the grave much too early.

Cathy and I had a standing bet on what Fleetwood Mac would open their show with. I guessed Rhiannon, and she guessed The Chain. They opened with Monday Morning, so neither of us were correct. Reflecting on it now, it makes sense that they would choose that song as the opener – first song, first album (with the current and most famous lineup).

Lindsey Buckingham is amazing on the guitar. I gained another whole level of appreciation after seeing him perform live. First off, he plays without a pick. It’s all finger work he does on that guitar and he makes it sing the likes of the great ones. Think Hendrix. I knew that Lindsey was a good guitar player, but never realized that he was a phenomenal guitar player. He goes up there with the elite.

Stevie Nicks looked horrible. I know, some of you may shout blasphemy and want to maul me when reading that statement, but remember, I am a true fan. Stevie Nicks was one of the first famous women that I had a crush on when I was a youngster. She was hot, hot, hot! I know she’s aged, but she also looked heavy, sounded winded, and for the beginning of the show, her voice was raspy and weak. As the night went on, her voice would get stronger, but she still lacked the punch that she had back in the day.

John McVie was the quiet one in the background. Strumming the bass guitar all night long, there was not much to say about him, except that he looked old, very old. Like 90.

Mick Fleetwood, the character of the group, stole the spotlight in several different ways. First off, he’s an amazing drummer. I never realized how accomplished he is behind the kit. He has a glowing personality and a great sense of humor. Cracking jokes, telling stories, and thanking the fans, Mick Fleetwood did it all. He also brought along two drum kits, the main one which was used during most of the night and a smaller one that went in front of his main kit for songs like Tusk.

Tusk was an incredible performance with great drum work by Mick and insane guitar by Lindsey. It was followed by an acoustic Big Love with just Lindsey on the stage and he certainly worked it for all it was worth. He played the hell out of that guitar and had the crowd roaring.

The crowd itself was pleasant, but I noticed that the arena was not completely full. The show did not sell out and I have to believe a lot of that is due to the ticket prices. Tickets were not cheap, and if it wasn’t for the fact that these were a gift for my wife, I wouldn’t have gone to that show. Looking around and seeing empty seats was disappointing to me, as Fleetwood Mac is a band that should be able to sell out the IZOD center on a Saturday night, but perhaps that sends a message – lower your ticket prices.

For the end of the night, Fleetwood Mac performed Go Your Own Way and that’s the song that finally got me. I thought about my dad and me jamming to this song when I was a teenager, driving around town with the music full blast, singing and loving it. I got choked up for this and had to close my eyes and take a few breaths. It’s hard to lose a parent and unfortunately, the feeling never goes away, it just dulls itself until moments like this, when it spikes. I got through it, told my Dad that I hoped he was enjoying the show, and then sang the rest of it as loud as I could in his memory.

The encore was not as strong as I thought it could have been. They returned with World Turning, which is a good enough song, but not an encore song. They would have been better off playing that earlier in the night and moving a bigger song to the encore, like Tusk.

Don’t Stop was one we knew was coming, because they hadn’t played it yet and since it’s the biggest hit they have, it was obvious. I thought that was the last song of the evening, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear one more. Silver Springs was the encore closer, and by now, Stevie’s voice sounded a lot better. She sang a great version and the band performed album perfect. It was a nice way to end the show and a good, strong, memory to go out on.

Would I see this band again? Not for the price I paid. While the concert was certainly enjoyable and I was glad that we attended, I wouldn’t pay that much money for them again. It was good fun while it lasted, but not worth all the cash. However, my wife was extremely happy, and considering she’s endured Dave Matthews concerts and Kiss concerts (two bands that she does not like), I’m glad that she liked the show so much.

Monday Morning
The Chain
I Know You’re Wrong
Go Insane
Second Hand News
Big Love
Never Going Back Again
Say You Love Me
Gold Dust Woman
Oh Well
I’m So Afraid
Stand Back
Go Your Own Way
World Turning
Don’t Stop
Silver Springs

1 comment:

Christine said...

My money would have been with Cathy and "The Chain." Although you don't give the show a glowing review, I'm jealous. I would love to see Stevie perform "Gold Dust Woman" live!