Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fleetwood Mac: The Dance

In 1997 Fleetwood Mac reformed as the late '70s version of the band, the most commercially successful incarnation of an organisation that'd started out as a purist blues band and, after some lost years in MOR limbo, ended up as one of the biggest era defining groups of the '70s and early '80s.

By the late Nineties Fleetwood Mac was pretty well dormant and the various members kept themselves busy with solo careers or simply relaxing by the pool, enjoying their money, or at least one hopes they did. The band did not truly manage to retain its strength and creativity after the departure of Lindsay Buckingham and it limped on for a while before the remaining individuals realised it would be better to have a long hiatus than to try to regain past glories. It is interesting to note that Fleetwood Mac could survive the departure of all its previous guitarists but could not manage the same trick when Buckingham went off to do his own thing. This would possibly mean that he was the creative heart and soul of the band. On the other hand, the band was no longer as hungry and struggling as it had been during the tenure of most of the previous guitarists and this probably meant that it was not too difficult simply to lie back for a while and not flog the deaf horse of a moribund creative unit.

Anyhow, in 1997 the band got back together for a series of gigs. No doubt money played a role, and the rekindling of a monster success story, even if everybody concerned was considerably older than in the heyday of the Rumours juggernaut.

On stage the band dress quite conservatively in good, only slightly Bohemian taste, much like the somewhat older audience it drew to its concert. The 3 frontpersons wear black, which is of course highly chic and fashionable and not an intimation that they are really up there for the eulogy of a once great band whose nostalgic memories they will be attempting to revive. The audience is profusely thanked for listening while the band members do their patented Fleetwood Mac thing with the assurance and authority that come from long years of experience. This is the kind of show that once again redefines adult oriented rock, this time for an audience who may have been kids back in the day.

There is a powerful sound system and the visuals are great because the camera coverage is so extensive, and it seems that a good time was had by all, the musicians on stage and the paying audience. Of course there is no wild dancing in the aisles, everybody is super cheerful and happy and well behaved. You cannot imagine this slightly wonky group of middle aged people, wearing lots of makeup to hide the years of hard living going backstage between numbers to do a line or two just to keep the energy levels up. The look like the spring water and macrobiotic food types, though John McVie was always a bit of a lush, and Stevie Nicks probably had regular whole body blood transfusions to maintain her youthful appearance. Even her profile shows signs of a certain blowsiness and Christine McVie looks exactly like every other well preserved Englishwoman of a certain age and class, perfectly made up and every bottle blonde hair in place. She should be the chairwoman of the parish library and not some kind of rock star. In fact, on reflection, she makes me think of the female sidekick to Donald Trump in his Apprentice reality TV series.

Lindsay Buckingham is a little gray around the temples but otherwise looks quite young and fresh though in close ups his eyes seem rather sad. Maybe he is not really comfortable revisiting the old hits. Buckingham still sings as good as ever and plays great virtuoso guitar, even doing some solo numbers from solo albums just to drive home the point that he had, and has, a life outside of the monolith.

Overall the music is mixture of the old hits and some new numbers and the USC marching band is trotted out yet again for Tusk – obviously the kids of the band that played on the original version – and great fun is had by all. I would imagine, other than the styles of dress, this concert would have been pretty much similar to any performance the band gave at the height of their success and as such it is a good souvenir of one of the giants of pop rock.






No comments: