Fleetwood Mac takes its name from the rhythm section of the band, the wild-eyed drummer Mick Fleetwood and the avuncular bassist John McVie. But those two fellows were reduced to mere bystander status at the Air Canada Centre, where the drama was carried out by the pair of legendarily ex-lovers in front. “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you,” Stevie Nicks sang and Lindsey Buckingham listened. “I’ll follow you down til the sound of my voice will haunt you.”
The song was the country-ish ballad Silver Springs, a condemnation and incantation attached to a broken relationship. Nicks’s voice was lower than when she first warbled the words on the 1977 B-side, making the parting vow even heavier. And when Nicks sang that “time casts a spell on you, but you won’t forget me,” the sold-out crowd could only agree and join in on the enchantment.
It was some evening, with the Mac, a still-spirited band with no new album but no reliance on nostalgia. The high material presented as era-less – memories attached to the breezy melodies, bluesy or bouncy rock and poignant acoustic-guitar moments were identified seat by seat, person by person. Earlier, Nicks, with only the finger-picking accompaniment of Buckingham at her side, offered the gentle Landslide. Could she handle the seasons of her life? Could we? The crowd’s ovation said something.
The live ballad of Nicks-Buckingham reminded me of other rock-relationship moments. When The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s signed off a show at the same venue with the affective reconciliation of Tea and Theatre: “We did it all, didn’t we, jumped every wall.” And when the Guess Who’s Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings at Molson Amphitheatre closed with “no time for a summer friend, no time for the love you send – seasons change and so did I.”
The strong night had begun with Second Hand News , a pow-pow-pow rocker about breakup sex. At 63, Buckingham is lean, bronzed and every inch a 110-per-cent player. His hairline has receded, but nothing else about him has.
Buckingham was firm and urgent on the plod and stomp of Chains, with harmony from Nicks, the stiletto-wearing songstress who intoned that chains would “keep us together.”
Couldn’t help but notice that Nicks announced “this party starts now” when it came to her turn to take the spotlight, as if Buckingham’s moments were something introductory. The springy Dreams involved wandering: “You say you want your freedom, well who am I to keep you down.” The scarf-loving Nicks rounded down her vocal lines; it was a reasonable concession to the passage of time.
Sad Angel, Buckingham (a chatter) explained, was a new tune to be released at some point as part of a newly recorded EP. It’s an angular, tightly coiled number straight out of the 1980s – something to which Billy Idol could dance, possibly with himself.
Couldn’t help but notice that Buckingham hung back by his amplifier during the tired version of Rhiannon, as if he wanted no part of it. The crowd cheered anyway.
Buckingham described Big Love as “particularly significant,” in that the one-time meditation on alienation was now recast as a rumination on the power and importance of change. It was done solo, and involved two hands working as four on one of his many custom-made guitars.
He used the same acoustic on the night-closing Say Goodbye, a gentle departure. A fan behind me cracked “great, he’s gone Gordon Lightfoot on us.” I would have said Glen Campbell, but Lightfoot will do in regard to a mellow send-off that had Nicks and Buckingham in wistful, harmonic agreement: “That was so long ago, still I often think of you.” But then, we knew that already.
Fleetwood Mac plays Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place, April 23; Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, May 12; Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre, May 14; Edmonton’s Rexall Centre, May 15; Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome, May 17; Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, May 19.
Second Hand News
Not That Funny
Sisters of the Moon
Never Going Back Again
Eyes of the World
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way