Sunday, August 17, 2003

Fleetwood Mac great, even without Christine McVie

Concert review

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Since Fleetwood Mac's inception in 1967, the band has gone through as much lineup juggling as any of its classic-rock contemporaries.

The latest spell of attrition involves long-time keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie, who sang several of the hits that helped to make Fleetwood Mac as big a 1970s rock phenomenon as any other.

McVie hasn't toured with the Mac for a few years, and the absence of her and her songs at Riverbend Saturday night proved anything but fatal. The band filled nearly 2 1/2 hours with the other '70s hits, a few rarities and some songs off the latest album Say You Will, all sung by those other front people, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

Rounded out by the founding rhythm section of drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, Fleetwood Mac employed a seven-person backing band to flesh out everything from Nicks' lush, persona-defining songs like "Dreams" and "Gold Dust Woman" to manic, percussion-driven tunes such as "Tusk" and "World Turning."

Buckingham out-worked Nicks over the course of the performance, and the large crowd appreciated his ferocious guitar solos on "Second Hand News" and new tune "Come." But Nicks, who's one of rock's most charismatic singers, needed only to make circle motions with her outstretched arms and twirl her body around two or three times to get all the cheers she wanted.

Nicks' solo hit "Stand Back," awash in the synthesizer playing of keyboardist Brett Tuggle, was a crowd favorite, as were those witchy-woman, twirl-worthy Fleetwood Mac hits like "Gypsy" and "Rhiannon."

Buckingham sang lead on some of the more interesting arrangements, such as a slowed-down and country-styled version of "Never Going Back Again." The new-wave-ish "Big Love" became a solo, acoustic-guitar number.

Say You Will material was inconsistent. The title track was the only selection that measured with the '70s classics.

Christine McVie wasn't acknowledged by name, but Fleetwood Mac didn't completely get away with a Christine-free event. The band closed the first of two encores with one of her mega-hit compositions, "Don't Stop." Nicks sang McVie's parts, and the crowd didn't mind a bit.


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